Pittsburgh Steelers defensive star protects himself

Steelers’ defensive juggernaut James Harrison (courtesy of Getty Images)

In 2010, CNN reported on former San Francisco 49ers lineman George Visger, who suffered a concussion in his short NFL career, fell into a coma and nearly died. A priest even administered last rites before Visger finally returned to consciousness.

Beginning in 1982, Visger started to notice his memory fading. He has since started to write everything in his life down in little notebooks because he simply cannot remember them. Experts believe he suffered brain damage as a result of his on-field injury.

Concussions are a growing problem in NFL football that have garnered all sorts of attention over the years. Unfortunately, the NFL has not been as quick to act when it comes to protecting their players. Sure, there are more extensive tests before a concussed player can return to the field, but there have been almost no improvements to players’ equipment… until now.

Pittsburgh Steelersoutside linebacker James Harrison claims to have suffered double-digit concussions during his professional career. Of course, he’s administered concussions to opposing players and been fined more than six figures for his hits, but that’s beside the point.

james-harrison-helmet

Harrison’s new helmet (Photo: Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY Sports)

Harrison and as many as 100 other NFL players now use helmets designed by Unequal Technologies that include an added layer of protection made from Kevlar, the same material used to make bulletproof vests. Although the company claims their helmets aren’t designed to prevent concussions, it seems clear that they couldn’t hurt, either. In fact, members of the NFL Player’s Association have recommended them to players, at least until the NFL itself does more to protect against head injuries.

Fortunately, next year’s players will be required to use knee and thigh pads, which will help with lower body hits. Of course, thigh injuries normally don’t result in depression, memory loss or brain damage, so it’s obvious things are being prioritized poorly.

What will it take for the NFL to respond to the real threat: concussions and the ripple effects they cause? I certainly don’t want something tragic to happen before steps are taken to protect our athletic heroes. So if you’re listening, Commissioner Goodell, it’s time to tighten up!

Posted on October 18, 2012, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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