The NFL has made another decision that will make a difference on the way that some players play the game. This time, it came in the form of a decision handed down on the grounds of safety precautions. Now, it appears at though shredder helmets have become a thing of the past.
If you’re not familiar with shredder helmets, here’s a bit of information on them. They are helmets where the face protector has many extra bars to prevent fingers or hands from entering the gaps. The nickname of shredder helmet is a reference to the type of helmet that the main villain Shredder wore on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These were brought to the mainstream when Justin Tuck made the change to wear them after many concerns about players putting their hand or fingers in the face guard. Most notably, Oakland Raiders first round draft pick Khalil Mack has become one of the poster boys of these types of helmets after wearing one throughout a large portion of his NCAA career.
Here is the statement from the NFL regarding the situation:
"“A study conducted by the University of New Hampshire for the NFL states that the added weight of the masks negatively affects the structure of the helmet, can cause neck fatigue that could lead to a more head-down posture during contact and can provide a false sense of security during tackling.”"
Sep 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Buffalo Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack (46) warms up before the game against the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
This brings up the question of which is more important: preventing fingers from entering the face guards or limiting the weight of the helmet to protect the neck. If it is truly an issue of safety that makes these helmets dangerous, then I applaud the NFL for their efforts.
Although no Minnesota Vikings players use this type of helmet to my knowledge, this ruling ensures that we will never see that happen in the future.