Antonio Brown is the most prolific huge receiver in soccer over the final eight seasons (or so), even whereas being a smaller and never more imposing physical specimen than in terms of each and each “No. 1” receiver in the NFL. How does he attain it?
His dominance begins with his feet. Antonio Brown has the most spirited feet in the NFL. His route running is masterful. His ability to swap instructions is unmatched. Coaches weak to continually listing us to steal the time to take dangle of on the road of scrimmage, nonetheless for most NFL receivers, the inner clock strikes too mercurial to employ reasonably just a few time there. The bid within is screaming GO! Glean into your route!, so you most continuously demand a receiver basically work the road of scrimmage to web his cornerback off-steadiness or out of web site. Nonetheless Antonio Brown makes a college of it. He’ll wait till the ball is snapped, pull out a diagram, unroll it, listing precisely the save he needs you to evaluate he’s going, roll it up, keep it back in his pocket, then bustle to at least one more put upright because the ball arrives in his palms.
Nonetheless Brown isn’t upright a diminutive man with lawful feet. Because of he’s so worthwhile, so “controversial,” and so paid, he has a aim on his back. A gigantic one. He draws double-teams from defenses then gets smothered on Twitter. Explicit coverages neutralize him whereas Stephen A. Smith excoriates him. All of that weight, plus an sick-timed time out to the cryotherapy chamber, has resulted in his feet being compromised, which I’m obvious has him already feeling a sure technique.
And now they desire his helmet.
The American Football Helmet is a flowery piece of kit; it is each and each a defend and a sword, and it suits your head esteem a gantlet. As soon as you shuffle it on, you know you are at work. You know that it’s upright you available in the market, enclosed in a bubble. The manner all over which you watch your head—once precious, to be protected, inclined to cracking—changes. It’ll withstand punishment. It’s miles a fortress. It’s miles a weapon.
Gentle changes in that bubble. Consciousness changes. Sound changes. It’s miles aloof in there. Nonetheless then gets very loud if you hit somebody. You are esteem a crustacean deep below the bottom of a violent ocean, and the sharks are repeatedly circling.
You change into something else in that bubble. For the most spirited in the enviornment, altering that thought en fight is an enormous trouble.
Nonetheless many receive attacked Brown for this stance, as if switching helmets were as easy as switching brands of coffee—though I’m not obvious any of it is likely you’ll maybe perhaps perhaps maybe stop your Starbucks, even supposing your boss demanded it.
If Antonio had the time or inclination to take a seat down and write things down for us, I imagine it would possibly maybe perhaps perhaps be a mash-up of the next aspects: the brand new helmet doesn’t fit lawful; it gives him a headache; the chinstrap feels new; he can’t demand his periphery (which makes him more inclined to gigantic hits and never more seemingly to tune the ball in the air); the league’s “health and safety” initiative is bogus and upright an try to restrict liability; there’s no such thing as a “safe helmet”; NOCSAE is a political organization; “helmet expertise” is a PR stunt; and we’re all going to die anyway. All of these items are fully real.
Reality is, there’s a WARNING sticky label on each and each and each and each helmet, including the brand new and improved NOCSAE-licensed fashions. It reads: “No helmet can pause severe head or neck injury a player would possibly maybe perhaps perhaps furthermore receive taking half in soccer.” No helmet.
The “helmet expertise” stutter adopted the invention of CTE and the following concussion apprehension. Subsequent came structural “innovations” prototyped by myriad originate-up firms claiming to be on the cusp of a “concussion-proof helmet.” Meanwhile, Crack! We’re all aloof smacking heads and that WARNING sticky label has yet to be eradicated. Like they stutter, no helmet can resolve the fast-deceleration-of-the-mind field that occurs on each and each soccer hit. Any soccer hit can purchase you disagreeable and it doesn’t matter what NOCSAE says—you’re toast.
In this light, Antonio’s affinity for his helmet is comprehensible. He’s a finely tuned instrument. Throw off one key and your complete thing gets retuned. Who’s conscious of if it ever sounds the same again?
Most athletes are superstitious when it involves equipment—you dance with who brung you. I turned into a Riddell man after I played. That turned into the primary model, and the one all of us weak. Your head adapts to it and also you neglect about it. It turns into an extension of your superego. When the Schutt came alongside, it turned into touted as lighter and more superior, and no-one turned into . It turned into finest the guys with concussion issues that were implored to create the swap, and if I undergo in mind because it is going to be, it did nothing to pause a recurrence.
Every new helmet create foisted upon avid gamers has a brand new shape and a brand new feel. It doesn’t upright swap the shape on the exterior; it changes the shape within. It changes the placement and feel of the pads that are touching the head. It changes the rigidity aspects for your noggin. It changes the neurological response to a basically explicit tightness for your head. And attributable to the diversified shape, it changes your visible knowing, the body in which you demand the field and everyone on it. This all forces you to judge if you can receive no time to evaluate—when pondering will web you hurt.
And if you attain receive time to evaluate, in all likelihood attributable to your feet are hamburger meat and also you’re not working in opposition to, you can thoroughly be pondering Jesus—why can’t I upright wear my helmet?
Nate Jackson played six years in the NFL and has written two books, Gradual Getting Up and Story Man. He co-based Athletes for CARE, a non-profit that advocates for the health and wellness of athletes. He lives in L.A.