In order to prevent the prevalence of mental illness caused by brain injuries, especially in football, we should take away the facemask from the helmet. Every year, there are as many as 3.8 million sports-related concussions in the United States (momsteam.com). Of these, football accounts for almost 30% (momsteam.com).
Concussions have been proven to lead to CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy,) which is a degenerative brain disorder, and is associated with many symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s (bu.edu).
One former player who suffered from this disease is former linebacker, Junior Seau. Seau, a 12-time Pro-Bowler (NFL All-star), retired in 2009. After that, Seau was the host of the television show, Sports Jobs with Junior Seau. However, on May 2, 2012, Seau committed suicide by shooting himself. Seau shot himself in the chest and left a note saying to have his brain looked at by neurologists. They found that Seau had CTE, and, most likely, CTE was the reason that he killed himself. Seau was thought to be happy and healthy, but his life ended because of his profession.
Doctors and former players all have possible solutions to this lethal problem in football, but right now, the NFL is just fining and suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits, which are most likely to cause concussions. However, most believe that this won’t help. Bleacher Report said, “ The NFL has made continuous progress in improving its concussion protocol, but the system that has been created is failing” . Players have been taught to hit this way for their whole career, and they aren’t about to stop now.
However, many would be more likely to lay off the helmet-to-helmet hits if the facemask was taken away. Most people are very sensitive to being hit in the face area, and the facemask, as the name implies, protects the face. Players would be less inclined to lead with their head if part of it is uncovered. NFL VP of Officiating, Dean Blanido, said,”One problem with those face masks is they may actually encourage players to lead with their heads.” (profootballtalk.com)
Many people say that eliminating the facemask will cause even more injuries, but there is still a solution to that. If we start this at the Pop Warner level, and teach them how to hit without facemasks, and gradually move the rule up levels, then it will eventually reach the NFL. We would begin by training the coaches how to teach tackling with the new equipment, and they would continue by passing it on to their players. There would also be penalties for grabbing the face, like there are now in the league. Also, this would begin eliminating concussions in youth players.
The NFL needs to do something about the concussion situation immediately, and my solution is to eliminate the facemask.
Alex Mickus, Guest Reporter