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Bryant Gumbel offers his solution for making the NFL safer

sicover.jpgIn the ongoing debate about how to make the NFL safer, solutions including a return to leather helmets have been offered.

Bryant Gumbel, in his commentary on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," offers another idea this week -- one that Redskins fans may have heard before.

The solution also happens to be one that might result in more players looking like Ray Nitschke, but that doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

Finally tonight, a few words about head impact collisions. For the past ten days or so, the NFL's stated desire to eliminate helmet hits has been the talk of the sports world. Some have cried foul, others have said such hits are part of the game, and still others have claimed they're unavoidable. Well, they're not.
There is, instead, a very simple way to eliminate such hits and all but guarantee total player cooperation. All the league would have to do is ban the facemask. Don't laugh - the game was played without facemasks of any kind until the early 1950's, and they've only been mandatory for a little more than three decades.
Absent the protection a facemask affords, it's illogical to think that any player, no matter how aggressive, would try to lead with his head. Because while it's the helmet that does the damage - it's the facemask that emboldens the player. Would eliminating the facemask lead to a lot of broken noses? Absolutely. Would players routinely be getting stitches and split lips? No doubt. But better that guys lose a few teeth than their memories of ever playing the game at all.
Is a facemask ban realistic? I don't know. I guess that depends on just how serious NFL honchos are about getting rid of helmet hits and reducing concussions. If they're serious then they could view this as a serious option, as one of their own once did. George Preston Marshall, the former owner of the Washington Redskins, actually suggested banning the facemask in the NFL because he said it would lead to more serious injuries than it was designed to prevent. That was back in 1955. It was a good idea then... it might be an even better one now. "

By Cindy Boren  | October 28, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
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No, Bryant the best way to keep us safe is to keep you from ever doing play by play in a game, again. Please don't do that it hurts our ears. OK, it may not help those on the field but you can understand my concern, right!

Posted by: Berndaddy | October 28, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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