Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, recently attended a football clinic with very young players to talk about player safety and concussion prevention.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission provided youth football players in Ohio new helmets through a new partnership. Goodell spoke to the players as they received their new helmets — “You don’t use your head as a weapon. You don’t use your helmets as a weapon. They’re there to protect you.”
Afterwards, Goodell spoke to reporters, particularly about bounty programs. The New Orleans Saints were caught paying players bonuses for knocking out certain opponents; Goodell came down hard on them. In light of the massive concussion lawsuit the NFL is facing, Goodell has been a big advocate of player safety and fighting anything that might lead to unnecessary head injuries.
Goodell is hoping that his push for safer football in the NFL is going to trickle down to the younger players. The NFL has outlawed dangerous hits and punished those who have caused major injuries unnecessarily. “Playing the game right has an impact on everyone who watches. So we want to make sure we’re doing it right so when they emulate them, they’ll do it the right way.”
Inez Tenenbaum’s Anti-Concussion Fight
Former South Carolina State Superintendent of Education and current Consumer Products Safety Commission Chair Inez Tenenbaum began a pilot program this year to replace any helmet older than 10 years for youth leagues. The NCAA and the NFL are donating money to the program, with the goal of getting 13,000 new helmets out.
Tenenbaum believes that change for the sport is going to happen at the youth level and move up through the sport. Student athletes can get concussions at very young ages, and it makes their future participation in the sport more dangerous. Injuries are part of football, but good equipment can help.
The good news is that parents take this very seriously and are pushing to make the game safer for their children.