Flying helmets and other random thoughts

By Hunter Ford

I played organized football from youth leagues to middle school to high school and NEVER once saw anybody’s helmet get knocked off their head. Not in practice, not in games, NEVER. So why is it that in almost every NFL or college game I watch these days somebody loses their headgear?

It happened to Mark Ingram Saturday at Starkville. The replay showed that a Mississippi State player reached over and put his hand around Ingram’s head, around the top of the helmet, in a last ditch effort to slow him down. Hardly the kind of thing that should have been able to pull his helmet loose. When I started out playing football we all wore those helmets with a single chin strap and two bar face masks. Today football helmets are high tech. They have elaborate face masks, air cushioning, visors, double straps, huge padded chin guards, rear view mirrors. But what’s the point if they don’t stay on your head, and what is the reason for this flying helmet pandemic?

I found some interesting commentary by searching the Web. Some folks believe that players are simply careless and don’t buckle their helmets correctly. Some believe that players with huge mops of dreadlocks cannot get any helmet to fit. Ingram has close cropped hair and I see plenty of guys with short hair getting their lids knocked off. Some folks think it is some kind of “cool” status thing to have your helmet off during the game and players are purposefully leaving them loose hoping to have some face time on TV. Nobody in their right mind would risk taking a linebacker’s helmet to their bare face.

But something is going on and I would like the Capstone readers to help me figure it out. On to other things.

I never saw a helmet get knocked off in my playing days, but I saw a teammate score with his pants down. One of my youth teammates had to borrow some big pants when he came to the game that day. They were okay with the belt tightened, but he broke a long run, got way behind the defense, and on about the 15 yard line his belt came loose, his pants dropped and he waddled across the goal line with his britches around his ankles. Too bad we didn’t have cell phone cameras and YouTube.

I have a pet peeve about guys with long flowing locks dangling from their helmets. One day, I would like to see a guy, apparently flying down the field for a TD, get yanked from behind and stopped from scoring by another guy who reaches and grabs hold of one of those absurdly long pony tails. Would that be a penalty? Hair is a choice, it is not part of equipment like a facemask. You could legally grab an untucked jersey, right? I’m surprised that scenario hasn’t already happened.

With all the throwback uniforms going on these days, I would like to see a REAL throwback game between two teams in leather helmets, sweaters, and brown canvas pants. Two teams with no players over 250 pounds. Wouldn’t that be cool? They’d also have to drop kick all PAT and field goal attempts.

Tennis. Yes, tennis. Most other sports have these “throwback” uniforms. I would like to see two of the world’s best tennis players play an exhibition match on a grass court wearing white button down shirts with white slacks and playing with wooden rackets. Maybe the shirt and slacks are a bit much. But I would like to see the wooden racquets. Tennis racquets used to be the size of badminton racquets. Now they are graphite or some other high tech material and they are the size of Rhode Island. No wonder the top players serve the ball at super sonic speeds and nobody can return serves. Somebody should ask Bjorn Borg to clean out his closet and loan some old gear to Federer and Nedal and make them use it.

Alabama has never beaten Texas in football and my Christmas wish to all Tide fans is to have our team in the BCS title game against the Longhorns and break that jinx. ROLL TIDE!


Add Yours
  1. 1

    I’m so glad you brought this up because it’s something I’ve noticed as well and have been quite annoyed with. I took Intro to Athletic Training at the Capstone my senior year and was taught on the first DAY that if a helmet flies off a player’s head during play, then it was not properly secured, fit, or inflated. Simply stated, helmets should *not* come off during play.

  2. 3
    E.G. White

    You and me both Hunter! I grew up a Longhorn fan. They were my first team when I was old enough to be interested in football. It was a good choice in that Darrell Royal was the coach then. However, I took a lot of shit going to Foley High with Snake Stabler and with the Bear at Bama. My father and uncle went to Auburn and so I was a Texas-Auburn fan until they played each other in the Gator Bowl, which I attended. At the last minute I decided to pull for Auburn and I was proud that by beating Texas they had done something that Bama could not. Several years later I left childish things behind and attended Alabama. Texas is still my 2nd favorite team and yet I’ve suffered through the years knowing we’ve only managed a 3-3 Bluebonnet Bowl tie with them. We’ve beat everybody else that equals our tradition – Mich, Notre Dame, USC, OU, Neb, Penn St. But I’ve been waiting my whole life for this opportunity to play Texas for the NC and break the jinx! Roll Tide Roll!

  3. 4
    VA Tide

    I hope we get a chance to beat Texas for the first time. I remember as a boy the Alabama-Texas in the Cotton Bowl, I believe, and seeing us fall to them toward the end of the game.

    The hair thing drives me nuts. Last year I remember seeing the Rutgers-Louisville game. The Louisville player tackled the Rutger player by the hair and there was no penalty. College sees it the same as NFL that hair is not equipment like a facemask etc. They see it like a jersey. So if a dude is tackled by his hair there is no penalty.

  4. 5

    No disrespect to Texas — but with Nebraska possibly winning the BIG 12 NORTH — their Defense is in the top 3 in the conference. Say they meet in Kansas City for the championship — say Nebraska upsets Texas and Alabama takes care of Floridumb’s punk asses — what a BCS nightmare.

  5. 6

    another thing that bothers me is leading with the helmet. we were taught in school to hit with the head up. do they not teach that anymore??? somebodie’s going to be a paraplegic (sp?) one day from that.

    also this trying to “blow somebody up” when tackling. how many times have you seen a running back or tight end bounce off somebody trying to “blow them up” and gain additional yardage??? i understand trying to punish and make a receiver think about the next play but if he scores what’s he thinking about??

  6. 7

    I’ve noticed a problem with the helmets coming off in games (this goes for the NFL too). The players who wear the “do-rags” — this allows the helmet to relatively slip off fairly easy. I believe this is the cause of helmets coming off in college and the pros. Sure it’s comfortable — even Ben Roethlisberger wears one — I see a mandatory ban on the “do-rags” in the future — the helmets literally slip on and off with the flick of the wrist.

  7. 8
    E.G. White

    You’re right about that Blood. Nebraska is the only North team capable of giving Texas a game. They aren’t a super team, but they coulda’, shoulda’ beat VT in Blacksburg. If Texas loses we get TCU, a team as good as Texas but with a real defense. I’m sure Pitt is gonna hand Cincy their ass, and they’re not as good as TCU anyway. I just don’t know how we get motivated for a non-BCS team that good if we lose the opportunity to play Texas? Dangerous scenario! For those of you that can’t find all the rankings here are the ones that have Bama #1 this week. Polls: Sporting News, Legends, ESPN Power Rankings. Computers: Sagarin, Coley Matrix, Massey, Billingsley. Bama has by far the strongest SOS of the 6 undefeated teams. And the best SOS in their last 2 games compared to Florida and Texas. This is not good! With so many #1 rankings, if we trash UTC and Auburn, we will probably jump Florida just before Atlanta. Ouch! That would give them the extra incentive of a pissed off, pissed on, underdog! We don’t need that!

  8. 9

    Thank you E.G.!!! Someone with a brain finally realizes that Nebraska has a legitimate shot at upsetting Texas. BTW — the would of’s, could of’s, should of’s on the Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech game can go on all day and night long — Blacksburg got a scare — did VT win it or lose it — well technically they “won” it — but not really — in the next two weeks — you’re going to see some crazy shit go down in the BCS rankings — except for Alabama / Floridumb —

    If it came down to that scenario if Alabama beat Florida and Texas lost — you can go ahead and pour the gold out on the National Championship rings for the Crimson Tide — because we would beat the shit out of a TCU or Cinci’ team. Too much speculation for me — let’s talk this after December 5th!!!

  9. 10

    I’m fairly certain that a primary reason for the loose helmet phenomenon can be found in trainers protocol. My coaches always told me to buckle mine just tight enough to keep it from swinging around on you but loose enough to come off if enough resistance is applied.

    Loose enough to come off? Why? Think about Ingrams potential neck injury had his helmet been racheted down tight.

  10. 12

    First, the helmet thing. Unless they have changed, the helmets have(had) four snaps and the guys were only snapping two, hence the easy-off problem. Maybe they needed to only snap two because it limited head movement and backs and receivers needed more haed movement. Just a guess there.
    In regard to the Texas thing, we had a score that was not called which was the winning margin. A photographer caught it as the Bama player had the ball OVER the goal line. The second time we played them, their guy (texas) stepped out at the 2 1/2 and the umps gave them a TD. There was a picture of that one too. The game will be ours to lose IF we get a fair shake from the refs.

  11. 13
    Hunter Ford

    Joe Namath has said in many interviews over the years that he is certain he scored on a QB sneak in the waning minutes of the 1965 Orange Bowl (64 season) that would have given Alabama the lead.

    Alabama started the game without an injured Joe Wilie. After falling behind 14-0 Bryant put in Namath and Namath guided Alabama to 17 points and had the ball at the goal line at the end of the game. Joe said he scored, the refs said he didn’t Coach Bryant told Joe, “Son, forget about it, it’s over now. Next time don’t give em any doubt, that’s the way to do it.”

    Alabama officially lost 21-17.

    Alabama was leading Texas 10-0 goin into fourth quarter of 1982 Cotton Bowl (81 season). Texas scored two TDS and gave up a safety and won 14-12… last time the two teams played.

  12. 14

    Joke — please — don’t start with that shit — let’s talk this AFTER the SEC Championship game — think we could agree on that?

  13. 15
    E.G. White

    Trying to stir up some shit aren’t you BPI? If I were you I’d be worrying more about the curb stomping the Barn’s gonna get and the ration of shit the Barners are gonna have to eat during the coming year(s), than what Bama’s gonna do in the National Championship game! I’d also be worried about my team giving up the same points to Furman as Bama has averaged scoring against the 22nd toughest SOS in the nation! LMFAO! RTR!

  14. 16

    I don’t buy the “strap” issues. I think it’s the “do-rags” that are making the helmets come off so easy — players naturally want the helmet to feel comfortable — nothing wrong with that — but I’m sticking with my guns on this one — the do-rags allow the helmet to be slipped on and off with ease.

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