A safer football helmet is still a weapon

Posted at 8:21 AM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 08:21:49-04

Contact sports will always be dangerous and their participants know the risks they take every time they strap on their equipment.

The efforts to protect these players is never ending as officials across all sports look for ways to preserve the careers of their athletes of all levels. 

The NFL faces the tallest task year in and year out. Concussion protocol is always changing. Retired players complaining of terrifying symptoms in their day-to-day lives. CTE always seems to find its way into the discussion including the latest claim from a medical expert who's studied some of the best in the game. 

Now, the NFL and NCAA are once again trying to preserve the livelihoods of their participants with new technology for helmets. 

At the University of Texas, they're  looking for more immediate answers. They're working with equipment company Riddell to evaluate head trauma during collisions at practice. Texas released this video demonstrating how the technology will work. 

During practices, when contact happens, data is sent to handheld devices being monitored by the training staff. The staffers say if the hit is hard enough, it will generate a signal on the device. However, if the hit was on the side of the helmet but the magnitude of the hit wasn't as high, no data would be registered. 

Then, there's new helmets entirely. 

Vicis is introducing a helmet that yields on contact. The company says you'll hear a thud sound instead of a loud crack fans are accustomed to hearing. The theory behind the design is softer impact will mean less head trauma with the hope of reducing brain injuries or concussions. 

Vicis says 25 of the 32 NFL teams have players using these helmets during spring practice. Some college teams are also reportedly using the helmets. 

Regardless of the technological improvements, it will likely be null and void. 

The NFL doesn't have a helmet problem. The NFL has a "using the helmet" problem.

You see it far too often when your watching every Saturday and Sunday. The NFL and NCAA have done their best to reduce high impact plays on special teams. There's targeting rules and more frequent unnecessary roughness calls to protect quarterbacks in particular. 

I saw it as a Division III player at Salisbury University. Whether at practice or the game, tackling technique goes to the wayside for the big hit. I can think of a handful of times where I was tired and I wasn't as concerned with how I brought a guy down, just that I did.

The game speed is much faster at Division I and in the pros. The time it takes to make that decision is at least cut in half. 

Remember Eric Weddle's attempt to bring down Carson Wentz of the Eagles last year? Ducks his head, attempts to catch Wentz, avoiding a collision. Had Wentz lowered his shoulder even further into him, Weddle may have been sidelined instantly. 

Improving tackling form will always trump trying to get new helmets because shoulder pads and helmets are used to help bring ball-carriers down or break a tackle from a defender.

It comes down to winning by any means necessary. If a player pulls up during a crucial in-game situation instead of going for broke on the play, how do you think his team will respond? The front office? The fans.

As more modifications to helmets and rules enter contact sports, the more prone athletes become to the real danger -- failure to improve their craft on a consistent basis.