Possible Solution 1: Mark Kelso Helmets
Former Bills safety Mark Kelso was a mainstay during the team’s Super Bowl years. He was well-known for not only being a good player but for his rather bizarre headgear. After suffering a few concussions, Kelso switched to the “Pro Cap” helmet, a new design that basically put a foam covering on the typical plastic helmet. This foam absorbs a lot of the impact from a hit to the helmet Kelso and a few other players wore them in the 90s, but I don’t believe they’ve been seen in the NFL since.
“With great encouragement from the medical staff from the Bills, they had me wear something that did not look too fashionable at the time, but they were convinced that it would help alleviate some of the problems I have been having with concussions, and it did. I wore it for five years and I would credit it for saving my career.”
Kelso also wishes other NFL players would give the Pro Cap a chance:
“I try to communicate (to current players) that your long-term health is important,” says Kelso. “I know it’s different when guys get paid, and (Pittsburgh Steelers’ receiver) Hines Ward said that ‘no one forces you to play the game’ and that’s true. But we don’t want players, especially younger players, to have any long-term effects due to concussions.
“I think we need to have the best technology on the field and I advocate that players be able to try things that might not look as pretty but are more protective,” says Kelso. “I am trying to coordinate football with the engineering and medical professions and get some better collaboration so that we can produce the best possible helmet that science will allow.”
Players would totally resist the Pro Cap, because it looks pretty goofy. But you know what? There’s evidence it works. I’d like to see a league or a school implement them for a few seasons and see if they provide a real reduction in concussion numbers. If it turns out to really work, a change should be made immediately. A mandate from high schools and colleges would get players used to wearing it, and before long fans and players would be used to seeing them on the field.