It’s time for another rousing rendition of: Does. the NFL. Care?! America’s favorite game show where we rate how much the Shield protects its players. Today’s question centers around a shiny new helmet “designed to reduce QB concussions.” The NFL and NFLPA approved the use of the Zero2 Matrix QB helmet this week, and with a name like that, I expect it to essentially swaddle a quarterback’s head while he’s going to the ground. Like the NFL equivalent of the James Bond avalanche bubble in The World is Not Enough.
No? It’s not like that. Well, let’s go to the experts and see what ground they’re breaking with this fancy new tech. Here’s Jason Neubauer — an executive at Vicis, the company that designed the helmet — on the Zero2 Matrix concussion canceller:
“The unique thing is that it has a deformal outer shell, which means when you take an impact in any location on that helmet, it will deform, or basically dent in that location to absorb the impact. What that means for us, as designers, or engineers, as we’re looking to optimize it for different types of impacts, we’re able to change unique locations to try to optimize the impact mitigation in any one area.”
I’m sorry, you lost me after “deform” and “dent.” Those aren’t exactly comforting words to hear when suiting up to go get chased by American Gladiators for four hours, with Laser, and Taser whipping you around like a 3-year-old does a bunch of balloons.
That’d be like a car company debuting its new “crippling” and “you-may-never-walk-again” airbags. This is further proof that ad and branding companies should exist and scientists should never be in front of a microphone. Per the job description, they’re smart, but I’ve met a lot of geniuses who’ve locked their keys in the car or walked into a glass door.
Unfortunately, there’s no technology on Earth that can prevent a football player from getting a concussion. According to concussion.org, “While helmets can defend against skull fractures and serious brain injuries, they can’t stop the movement of the brain inside the skull that causes concussion.”
Aside from that being the main reason why the MCU killed off Tony Stark (God bless Kevin Feige for passing on that CTE storyline; it’s why he makes the big bucks, and DC fans are left trying to convince us that Michael Keaton squeezing into the Batsuit at 71 isn’t going to be depressing at all) it’s also proof that NFL players are always going to be at risk of head trauma.
The league should focus on its post-concussion protocols. It can’t prevent bad things from happening, but it can at least control the way it reacts before Tua Tagovailoa seizes up, and traumatizes America again. He shouldn’t have been in that Dolphins-Bengals game because he hit his head four days earlier against Buffalo, but no team should have to play on short rest, nor do they want to. Oh, Jeff Bezos didn’t get his nut? I know that’s triggering for him, but all you have to do is give him a couple companies to play god with, and he’ll fall asleep in no time.
I’m sorry. This was supposed to be a quick, breezy blog post like the AP article that ESPN copy-and-pasted to its website, but I haven’t even gotten to the most despicable piece of that story yet.
In a memo that NFL executive Jeff Miller sent to teams about the Zero Dark Brain Matter helmets, the glorified NFL spokesman said seven helmets the league highly recommended three years ago have been downgraded to “prohibited” as a result of the testing.
Holy shit. That’s a quicker recall than guacamole at Chipotle or Jonathan Majors’ career. (There goes my shot at writing the next Great American Superhero Movie.) Protective equipment going from highly recommended to 86’d in less time than it takes for Donald Trump to get reelected should tell you everything you need to know about how the Shield views its workforce, and definitely answers the question of: Does. The NFL. Care?!