Illustration for article titled Why Antonio Brown Needs His Helmet
Illustration: Jim Cooke (G/O Media)

Antonio Brown is the most prolific vast receiver in football over the very last 8 seasons (or so), even when becoming a lesser and less imposing physical specimen than practically each and every “No. 1” receiver in the NFL. How does he do it?

His dominance begins with his toes. Antonio Brown has the very best toes in the NFL. His route managing is masterful. His potential to adjust directions is unmatched. Coaches employed to generally convey to us to consider the time to gain on the line of scrimmage, but for most NFL receivers, the inner clock moves also fast to expend a lot of time there. The voice within just is screaming GO! Get into your route!, so you hardly ever see a receiver truly function the line of scrimmage to get his cornerback off-equilibrium or out of position. But Antonio Brown can make a school of it. He will wait until finally the ball is snapped, pull out a map, unroll it, level to precisely in which he would like you to feel he’s heading, roll it up, put it back again in his pocket, then operate to one more place just as the ball comes in his palms.

But Brown is not just a little dude with great ft. Because he is so productive, so “controversial,” and so compensated, he has a concentrate on on his again. A large just one. He draws double-teams from defenses then gets smothered on Twitter. Precise coverages neutralize him when Stephen A. Smith excoriates him. All of that weight, additionally an unwell-timed excursion to the cryotherapy chamber, has resulted in his toes currently being compromised, which I’m guaranteed has him already feeling a particular way.

And now they want his helmet.

The American Football Helmet is a complex piece of machines it is each a shield and a sword, and it matches your head like a gantlet. When you slide it on, you know you are at work. You know that it is just you out there, enclosed in a bubble. The method in which you look at your head—once important, to be secured, vulnerable to cracking—changes. It can face up to punishment. It is a fortress. It is a weapon.

Mild changes in that bubble. Awareness modifications. Sound variations. It is quiet in there. But then gets extremely loud when you hit somebody. You are like a crustacean deep underneath the surface of a violent ocean, and the sharks are constantly circling.

You become some thing else in that bubble. For the ideal in the world, altering that notion en fight is a massive risk.

But a lot of have attacked Brown for this stance, as if switching helmets had been as quick as switching brand names of coffee—although I’m not guaranteed any of you would give up your Starbucks, even if your boss demanded it.

Illustration for article titled Why Antonio Brown Needs His Helmet
Photograph: AP

If Antonio had the time or inclination to sit down and create items down for us, I imagine it would be a mash-up of the following details: the new helmet does not in good shape correct it provides him a headache the chinstrap feels weird he can’t see his periphery (which would make him much more susceptible to significant hits and considerably less probable to monitor the ball in the air) the league’s “health and safety” initiative is bogus and just an endeavor to restrict legal responsibility there’s no this kind of point as a “safe helmet” NOCSAE is a political corporation “helmet technology” is a PR stunt and we’re all going to die in any case. All of these items are completely correct.

Truth is, there’s a WARNING sticker on every single and each and every helmet, which include the new and improved NOCSAE-licensed models. It reads: “No helmet can avert major head or neck injury a player may well obtain participating in football.” No helmet.

The “helmet technology” growth adopted the discovery of CTE and the ensuing concussion worry. Following came structural “innovations” prototyped by myriad start off-up organizations professing to be on the cusp of a “concussion-evidence helmet.” Meanwhile, Crack! We’re all nevertheless smacking heads and that WARNING sticker has still to be eradicated. Like they say, no helmet can clear up the fast-deceleration-of-the-mind problem that occurs on every single football hit. Any football strike can catch you completely wrong and it doesn’t issue what NOCSAE says—you’re toast.

In this mild, Antonio’s affinity for his helmet is easy to understand. He is a finely tuned instrument. Throw off one particular important and the whole issue gets retuned. Who is aware if it at any time appears the similar once again?

Most athletes are superstitious when it will come to equipment—you dance with who brung you. I was a Riddell person when I performed. That was the basic product, and the one we all applied. Your head adapts to it and you overlook about it. It results in being an extension of your superego. When the Schutt came along, it was touted as lighter and a lot more innovative, and no 1 was intrigued. It was only the men with concussion difficulties that were implored to make the swap, and if I try to remember the right way, it did practically nothing to avert a recurrence.

Each new helmet design foisted upon players has a new form and a new come to feel. It does not just change the form on the outdoors it modifications the form in just. It improvements the placement and come to feel of the pads that are touching the head. It variations the stress factors on your noggin. It modifications the neurological response to a quite precise tightness on your head. And since of the unique shape, it changes your area of vision, the frame by way of which you see the subject and everyone on it. This all forces you to feel when you have no time to think—when thinking will get you hurt.

And when you do have time to feel, most likely due to the fact your ft are hamburger meat and you’re not training, you may well very properly be imagining Jesus—why cannot I just have on my helmet?

Nate Jackson performed 6 several years in the NFL and has prepared two textbooks, Gradual Getting Up and Fantasy Man. He co-launched Athletes for Care, a non-gain that advocates for the health and fitness and wellness of athletes. He lives in L.A.

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