Neck strength could be next key measurable for NFL players

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Protecting the brain is, in some respects, a no-brainer.

One basic way to reduce concussions comes from making the muscles holding the head in place stronger.  As Alex Marvez of explains it, strength coaches believe that increased neck size and strength can help.

Marvez writes that some NFL strength coaches believe that neck strength should be measured at the Scouting Combine.

“If you test the neck, I don’t know how it will affect a player’s draft status,” said Vikings strength coach Tom Kanavy.  “But I know if we were to test, those [college] trainers would have no choice but to institute neck training.  That’s where we’ve got to start.”

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English agrees with Kavany, and English thinks that making neck strength part of the NFL scouting process will make neck strength more of a focus at lower levels of the sport.

“It will change everything by having a trickle-down effect,” English said.

The NFL generally agrees with the notion that a stronger neck could result in fewer concussions.  “[T]here is some thought one reason NFL players may have a decreased concussion risk in comparison to younger athletes and female athletes is the increased strength and development of their neck muscles,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Marvez.  “There is no league-wide program or guidelines as this is theoretical, but nonetheless, all NFL strength and conditioning programs include neck muscles in one form or another.”

It makes sense, and anything that makes young athletes who participate in sports involving contact with the head better equipped to withstand that contact should be embraced.

Even if it makes young men and women throughout the nation look like Takeo Spikes.

15 responses to “Neck strength could be next key measurable for NFL players

  1. That premise is stupid. Lineman have the most concussions and I would venture a guess that they also are towards the high end of NFL player “neck strength”. Concussions are caused by blows to the head that can fracture the skull and bruise the brain or by a sudden stop causing the still moving brain to slam into the inside of the skull. Neck strength will hardly prevent concussions.

  2. Even if it makes young men and women throughout the nation look like Takeo Spikes.

    I would love to meet a woman with the neck strength of Takeo Spikes.

  3. I Don’t Care how strong your neck is the Brain is still moving in the skull. There are no muscles in the skull to keep it still in there.

  4. Ted Johnson had enormous neck muscles and suffered a whole lot of concussions. I don’t thin neck muscles have a huge effect on how much the brain crashes into the skull on impact hits.

  5. Here is my solution to the concussion problem.

    1: Reduce, that’s right, REDUCE the level of padding. Make the tackler “feel” the hit as much as the ball carrier.

    2: Standardize a shorter cleat length for all players. Make it harder to plant and launch themselves at the opponent.

    Minimizing the ability of the player to his body as a weapon is key in solving the concussion epidemic.

    eh, but who am I to say…

  6. This seems backwards to me, concussions are because the brain slams up against the inside of the skull when the head is knocked hard. A stronger neck will just make that impact even worse, like stiff shocks on a car. They should be emphasizing flexibility in the neck so the reaction is as elastic as possible.

  7. I bet if every stadium was turn and not the field turf there would be less concussions. These guys are flying around 100 mph on the field turf.

  8. SOME concussions are caused by whiplash – I think thats what they are referring to – But most of those whip lash concussions come from hits that guys dont see – And if you are knocked out on your feet, your head will hit the ground no matter how strong your neck is

  9. I agree with kidfootball.

    From playing rugby I know that taking the hard helmet & shells out of full contact means the tackler feels impact as much or more than the tackled, which reduces spearing & launching with the shoulders leading & emphasizes form tackling & wrapping up.

  10. The primary function of a football helmet is to prevent skull fractures. Which they are extremely good at doing….I can’t remember a football player every suffering a fractured skull.

    Motorcycle/racing car and even bicycle helmets are extremely effective at preventing both skull fractures and, within reason, brain injuries. The problem is, they are designed to take ONE impact, after which the helmet is considered to be destroyed. Obviously this doesn’t work for a football helmet. If someone can come up with a liner which has the impact absorption of expanded polystyrene, but re-expands after each impact, it will cut down on concussions a lot.

  11. Jeeeessuz. Neck muscles do not protect you from getting concussions. More spin from the NFL to make sure they won’t get sued in the future. ‘Well, it isn’t our fault your neck muscles are so weak.’

    If I run Takeo Spikes into a brick wall at 30mph, he will get a concussion, regardless of how thick his neck is.

  12. I only half agree with kidfootball–while reducing pads would influence more players to wrap up, it also leaves players defenseless against defenders who play with reckless abandon. Will James Harrison hit any less hard because there are softer pads? I think not.

    There is no quick fix to the concussion issue. There not only needs to be scientific improvements made, but also deep psychological adjustments by the players, coaches, and training staff at all levels of the game.

    And if you want to look a real mans neck, check out Paul Poslusny. Yoked.

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