Local Neurologist Says No-Kickoff Idea Might Be a Good One

A diagram of the forces on the brain in concussion. Wikipedia graphic
The NFL says it will consider ways to make kick-offs less violent, including an idea that would wipe them out all-together. One local neurologist says reducing high impact plays would be a step in the right direction.

Dr. Paul Schulz is an associate professor of neurology at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. He frequently treats athletes with concussions at the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital. He says any measure to protect players, especially on kick-offs, would be a good idea.

"The key element seems to be the speed with which people are hit in terms of determining whether they get a concussion and whether they have potential for brain injury. So my thought would be that any element of the game that involves a high speed collision would be the kind of element you would want to avoid."

Schulz says the brain has the consistency of Jello and is hard to protect, especially on a football field with other players running full speed toward each other.

"So the question is how do you protect something, a piece of Jello in a 300 pound guy who's running down the field hitting another 300 pound guy. What would you have to do to keep that Jello safe? And if you put it in those words, you would argue that any impact on the head can't really be a good thing."
 
The NFL says it will consider proposals that would eliminate kick-offs, but no change is expected anytime soon. There's no word yet if college football and even high school leagues would consider similar ideas.