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!