Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford saw something on television recently that he decided to pass along to his vast readership. He saw Bryant Gumbel of HBO's "Real Sports" advocating for the NFL to remove face masks from helmets to promote safer play. This was actually an idea Washington Redskins founder George Preston Marshall had in the 1950s, but it didn't really gain any traction.
"The concept of getting rid of the masks is sound, however, because nobody likes pain," writes Ford. "It would be interesting to see a study comparing the incidence of concussions between helmeted football players and helmetless rugby players. Does the obvious vulnerability keep rugby players from incurring as many concussions, or is it just too hard to tell the difference when they have them?"
I don't think this will happen in a million years, but it's an interesting concept. Unfortunately, I'm afraid there would still be a ton of injuries. Players have been taught from the time they were on Pop Warner teams to plant that face mask in the chest of an opposing player. You have to "see what you hit" is what we've heard throughout the years.
Players would have to learn a completely new technique, and that would take some time. And something tells me the players union might not be overly supportive of this concept.
If the face masks were removed, teams would suddenly look like motorcycle gangs. But hey, I'm willing to give it a try. Would you guys be bothered by the removal of face masks if you knew it would have a major impact on reducing head injuries?