The NFL Needs NASCAR and Joe Gibbs, But As More Than a Coach

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The NFL Needs NASCAR and Joe Gibbs, But As More Than a Coach
My favorite team was the Colts...mostly because I liked their helmet.

Years ago, this idea occurred to me, but now I am finally going to write about it.  It may be one that someone else has come up with; one that someone else has also thought of, but never articulated.  Or even, one whereby, the “wheels are in motion”; but is unbenounced to the general public …


Anyway, since I know all good, great, and protective ideas come from God.  Who actually gave it to me freely, therefore, while I would rather have profited from it in some way, or protected the idea; I think it is better spiritually, to just put it out there, knowing He will ultimately reward me in the end; but, in addition, for the sheer love of the game and athletes in general; thus, here it is…


First of all, I wholeheartedly believe football simply evolved from the gladiator games in the days of the Roman Empire.  I also believe auto racing evolved from chariot races.  And in the United States, which I spiritually know is the “New Roman Empire” spoke of biblically; too me, there is a great bond between the NFL and NASCAR. 


To that end, I don’t understand, why, with all the reporting of concussions, player safety and now the implementation of rules for violent (especially helmet-to-helmet) hits, these two gargantuan entities don’t “put their heads together” and let NASCAR and all of auto-racing, who pride themselves on driver safety, design a working helmet for use in football.  Or, at present, just use existing racecar driver helmets.


Someone, somewhere, should contact Joe Gibbs, the former NFL Head Coach and NASCAR team owner.  He seems like a person, respected and admired, with a “good head on his shoulders” who can mediate between the “powers that be.”


I am not an engineer, but I can only imagine the design benefits should these two organizations “have a meeting of the minds.”


1.  I am certain the driver’s helmet shell is more protective than the existing NFL helmets made today, by primarily either Riddell or Schutt.


2.  A racecar-like helmet would advance (since there was a time when players wore helmets without facemasks), the protective aspects for the face as well as the head or brain.  But even more advanced, is the deletion of the facemask altogether and the penalties and injuries that occur involving the facemask.


3. The mandatory existence of a built-in visor to protect the eyes.  Honestly, it’s just a matter of time, violent as the game is; that mother’s old wisdom of “Be careful, someone is going to poke an eye out” comes to tragic fruition.


4.  I believe any added weight that a race-car helmet might bring will slow down the speed of the game.  And while most everyone knows the value of speed, the relative differences in players running ability will still involve “speed” but the overall game itself just not be so fast, and that too would lend to safety.  A weightier helmet may lead to more crunching blows, but truth is: “Speed kills,” as they say.


Now, I may go off on a tangent a bit, but benefit number 4 leads to my second suggestion, that I will only mention briefly, and that is the mandatory equipping of players with knee braces.  Think about it, football has gone from days where players used to wear cups, and girdle, or hip pads; to the day, where many now forsake even thigh and knee pads.  Basically, a player just wears a helmet and shoulder pads!


Anyway, I mention the knee braces, solely because a protective helmet, especially of this new design, may make certain hits more devastating.  And beside the head itself, I would venture knee injuries are the most common and certainly most debilitating.  But think about it: “Use your head,” what body part is more valuable than the human brain?


The comedian Jerry Seinfeld once quipped why do humans where helmets in the first place?  He joked, “If we humans are doing anything whereby we need a helmet to keep from crushing our skulls like a melon, perhaps it’s time we humans were smart enough to just stop doing that thing.”


Well, valid as that may be, even though the helmet could be considered godly human technology or evolutionary advancement…who on earth wants to see an end to some of the sports that use a helmet, especially the beloved football (or “up-ball” as my baby nephew used to call it)?  I know; I for one don’t ever want to see football end. 


From personal experience, I recall, when I played in college at the University of Miami, I can still remember one helmet-to-helmet hit, in practice, leveled on me by New England player Ronnie Lippett where he “almost tore my head off.”  That one hit was about 25 years ago and I still vividly remember it.


Yet, less memorable, in a literal sense, was an instance in high school, where I suffered unconsciousness and a concussion that came with a loss of memory, following a touchdown catch I made, and simply landed backwards on my head.  When I came to, on the sideline, at some point, I recall my best friend had to tell me that I made the catch and the time lapse and events that had passed.  I was in tears, terrified at the thought that I missed a part of the game.  I mean, if I don’t remember it, especially a TD catch, is it like it really happened at all?  But more so, I was traumatized by the thought that I had no memory or a piece of my brain or life had, in a sense, gone missing forever; as if it died; or as if I died, or I never existed!


Now this leads me to point #5, which is just one gratuitous bonus….


Pope John Paul II once remarked, “If it doesn’t happen on TV, it doesn’t happen.” Well, I use that saying, in many contexts, but in this case, imagine, since television now drives the NFL, if every player had a built-in helmet cam?  Imagine the video imagery of a quarterback looking downfield to throw a bomb; or a returner juking defenders as he advanced up the field; or a running back extending a straight-arm; or a blocker head-butting a defender; or a defensive player making a hard hit; or a receiver watching the ball come into his hands? I bet the added visuals would make the play and game more memorable. Imagine?  I know I do. 


In fact, I know and I truly believe this idea is long overdue for the good of a game that God created and with the players whom He loves; those whom the Holy Spirit would love to protect.


I don’t know, “maybe it’s just me” as they say, but it seems like a “no-brainer.” Maybe it’s just an idea that needed to evolve, one from a Creator, whose time has truly come…


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