Photo By Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Concussions are a scary topic for athletes and parents. Educating ourselves on the topic is the first step to saving the player, and the game.

As I’ve written in previous posts, I’m a former NFL player with a middle school aged son with big football dreams of his own.  So I have concerns at both ends of this topic. My first concern is how do I best protect my son from not only getting a concussion, but also sub-concussive blows to the head. Secondly, I’ve had about 12…. or was it 20 concussions—I don’t remember. (C’mon….a little humor). Seriously, I’ve had at least a

Photo By Shari Schmok

dozen concussions during my NFL days, and probably hundreds of thousands of what would be considered “sub-concussive” blows to the head over my entire playing career. What we now refer to as CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is a serious problem for not only retired NFL players, but athletes of all ages in multiple sports ranging from football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse to hockey.  As a matter of fact, there was a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Youth Soccer Association for girls soccer in Pennsylvania just this week.  It’s also a huge problem with our military veterans.  My point here is that concussions impact the vast majority of us.  So it’s up to us to educate ourselves and find a better way to play the games we love.

Before we dive in let’s address the elephant in the room.

Many people will ask, if I’m so concerned about the effects of playing football why would  I let my son play football.  Thankfully this is 2018, and  we are playing the game smarter than ever. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when I played you where taught that the head was a weapon in which to inflict serious damage to your opponent. Todays coaches are more knowledgable than ever before, and have adapted their coaching style to play smarter and better than ever. A great example would be the efficiency and power of the rugby style tackling system that is being taught in todays game. It’s not only safer for the athlete, but makes a stronger more formidable defensive player on the field.  If you’re doubting its efficiency take a look at the Seattle Seahawks defensive play over the last few years. This improved system of tackling has even been mandated for all high school football coaches in the state of Texas this year.

We have made huge strides in equipment technology. 

When I was in high school the helmets were basically a layer of foam padding covered by a hard surface. Helmets at that time (80’s & 90’s) were made to protect players from busting their head open, or breaking their nose. They were nothing like todays helmets that have considered what actually happens to the human head when hit.

I also believe that the game of football more than any other team sport teaches life lessons to young men that can’t be learned anywhere else.

What happens when you have a concussion

Education is key: The Concussion Legacy Foundation

Just about all of us have heard about athletes donating their brains to continue research. Most of the time they are referring to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, that was founded by my friend, Chris Nowinski PH.D.  The Concussion Legacy Foundation is dedicated to advancing the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups. They are in my opinion, the greatest resource available for coaches, parents and players to educate themselves about concussions, and concussion prevention.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) is partnered with Boston University School of Medicine, collaborating in formation of its Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE Center).  CLF has also developed ways to raise awareness of the issue and to directly educate coaches, athletes and parents.

Best Equipment

Across Texas and the nation coaches, parents and athletes are looking for the right equipment to by their athlete. In a previous article we wrote about the helmet test results from both the 2018 NFL/NFLPA, and Virginia Tech Laboratory tests.  Below I’m going to give you a short list of what I believe to be not only the “best” helmet, but additional “must have” equipment this year.

Best Helmet – The VICIS ZERO1

VICIS engineers and neurosurgeons have developed a multilayered, highly-engineered helmet design that mitigates linear and rotational impact forces. It ranked #1 on both the NFL and Virginia Tech Lab tests this year. To learn more about the VICIS ZERO1 click here.

Extra Head Protection – 2nd Skull

2nd Skull adds a layer of protection to every helmet. The skull cap is a compressive, antimicrobial cap with an extra thin layer of XRD® Technology, an extreme energy absorbing material. This material is made with special urethane molecules that are soft and flexible at rest and then momentarily harden under sudden pressure.  To learn more about 2nd Skull click here.

You won’t believe what happens to this head!

Best Shoulder Pads – XTech

XTECH Protective Equipment makes the X2 Shoulder Pad. A lightweight, breathable, flexible, water-resistant, comfortable pad which provides unmatched player protection. Built with XRD® Technology which is the same amazing material that is used in the 2nd Skull.  The tech behind the pads is truly amazing to learn more about XTech click here.

Watch Teddy Monica the co-owner of XTech slam this helmet on to his hand that is covered with a thin layer of the material!!!

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Best Education Tech – Atavus

The Atavus Tackle System is built upon teachable technique and fundamentals, informed by actionable data and analytics, and able to maximize player and team performance across all levels of the game. To learn more about Atavus click here.

Photo By Atavus

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Concussion prevention, concussion prevention equipment, football safety, 2nd Skull, concussion prevention technology, protective head gear, CTE, TBI, prevent traumatic brain injury, sports head injury prevention, helmet.

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