Joe Staley wasn’t crazy about the idea of changing his equipment after 15 years of doing things the same way, with good results.
But last fall, because of rules designed to protect players, he changed helmets.
“It’s something that needs to be done,” Staley told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America, in an interview conducted last fall. “And I think I’m a perfect case study of why it needs to be done. I wouldn’t have changed my helmet unless they made these rules changes.”
Of course, Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown doesn’t want to do just that, and has filed a grievance over keeping his old helmet (which the league’s safety rules have deemed obsolete). That may be just part of the story which has taken so many twists and turns, but the willful hostility toward safety is the most peculiar to players who have dug deeper into what can be done to protect them.
Doug Baldwin became an investor in Vicis, a Seattle-area helmet manufacturer. As a football player, he had a vested interest in the safety of football players, and for him the choice was easy.
“If you have a helmet out there that is proven to be safer in a number of different ways, why wouldn’t you wear that helmet?,” Baldwin said. “In the grand scheme of things, I want to make sure I have all the marbles that I was born with to experience life and to enjoy life with my family and with my future children.”
Lions wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a former Seahawks teammate of Baldwin, also became an advocate for the company after changing equipment.
“You see and hear a lot of articles and a lot of talk about CTE these days, and you know the effects of concussions.,” Kearse said. “My change [to the Vicis helmet] . . . a little bit of my decision was, How can I protect myself further down the road when football is not a part of my life? Is looking cool out there on the field or wearing a helmet from back in college because it’s comfortable worth it?”
Brown apparently thinks so, in his effort to be the one exception to a rule designed to protect every player.