Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On Facemasks

So in the past three days we've reinforced a pair of truisms: 1.) Football (even terrible football, involving quarterbacks who once mocked me at pizza parlors while I was visibly drunk on Sambuca in college)* is the most popular sport in America, and 2.) Football is at a serious crossroads. "Isn't hitting hard part of football?" asks the Baltimore Sun's Kevin Van Valkenberg, in a blog post defending the defenders who are perpetrating violent hits that once went unnoticed. And he's right, of course, but I still see no way in which football can survive without undertaking some fundamental changes in the way it's played, or the way it looks. There's no more rationalizing these issues. So today, Joe Paterno advanced an idea that seems like a punchline to an octogenarian joke: Eliminate the facemask. He's not the first person to advance this idea; the idea behind it is that there's no better way to deter a defender than to ensure that a head-first hit will result in a severely deviated septum.

It's one of those ideas that won't ever be accepted by the mainstream; it sounds too counterintuitive, and it would look too strange, and my guess is the player's association wouldn't exactly be thrilled by the prospects of significant dental work displacing concussions. But maybe the best way to move the game forward is to drag it back in time.

*And can I just say, Kerry Collins now has more passing yards than Jim Kelly, Donovan McNabb, Phil Simms, Steve Young, Y.A. Tittle and Troy Aikman. If he had won the 2000 Super Bowl with the Giants, and then made the Super Bowl with the 2008 Titans, he would be a borderline Hall of Famer. As it is, he has to be considered as the most unnoticed decent-to-very good quarterback of the past fifteen years.


EPorvaznik said...

Plus seeing Kerry Collins in an active jersey still instills more confidence than his contemporary Todd Collins. Good for JoePa, too. Way to keep us entertained and our minds off of what's happening on the Nittany Lions sidelines, if only till Saturday.

Anonymous said...

How about getting rid of pads altogether? Australian Football/Rugby seem to live without it. It encourages players to tackle correctly (i.e.with their heads out of the way).