Sound Fundamentals

Written by Posted On Friday, 23 September 2022 00:00

"Don’t do that!” With the preseason now out of the way and the 2022 NFL regular season going strong, you hear coaches still screaming to their players to NOT tackle or block leading with the crown of their helmet. Too many players still drop their heads when they prepare to tackle or block. Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula – 33 years in the NFL – always coached his players to “see what you hit.” Helmet-to-helmet contact is often called “targeting” and is subject to disqualification. Runners will often lower their heads when about to be tackled thereby bracing themselves for the impending blow. This makes it difficult for the oncoming tackler to avoid head-to-head contact.

Many players have suffered life-threatening cervical spine injuries with helmet-to-helmet contact.  For many, playing football becomes out of the question. Football at all levels is full of physical — some say brutal — contact. At the NFL level with the size of today’s players, contact between players does make the word brutal come to life. All sports that involve contact have that risk and perhaps risk even disability. The NFL constantly conducts tests to determine how to better protect its players. In 2022 (even earlier behind the scenes) the NFL has put into use a protective headgear that fits inside the helmet to further reduce the physical impact of contact.

I belong to (was inducted into) the NFL Alumni “Order of the Leather Helmet.” That sounds funny today, but I did wear one in high school. Leather helmets didn’t provide much protection from blows to the head. So most players avoided using their heads for contact and thereby tackled and blocked with their shoulders. That’s why “see what you hit” still makes a lotta sense.

Enter Riddell, the maker, and supplier of today’s plastic football helmets. All NFL teams use the Riddell helmet. To Riddell’s credit, they are working feverishly to improve the inside of their helmets to reduce the impact of any blow. I fail to understand why a player slaps his teammate’s head to congratulate him for a touchdown, catch or sack. Every time the head moves the skull inside the head moves, causing the brain to contact the inside of the skull.  That is why the continuous improvement of the inside of the helmet is important. Football is here to stay. Let’s do all we can to reduce injuries.

Will you encourage others to play sports safely and wisely?

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Dr. Jim Tunney

Jim Tunney had an exemplary career in sports. A former high school coach, teacher, principal and district superintendent, he had a 40-year career in officiating football and basketball.

Thirty-one of those years he was an NFL Referee working a record twenty-nine post-season games including four Super Bowls, ten NFC/AFC Championship games, six Pro Bowls and twenty-five Monday Night Games.

He officiated some of the most memorable games in NFL history. His book Impartial Judgment: “The Dean of NFL Referees” Calls Pro Football As He Sees It, chronicles his NFL career.

As a Professional Speaker, he is Past President of The National Speakers Association and a Charter Member of its most prestigious group – The CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame. Jim holds every professional designation of the NSA, including the Oscar of Professional Speaking – The Cavett. NSA named him Philanthropist of the Year in 2007.

Dr. Tunney (a doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California) continues to serve his community as  Trustee Emeritus of both Monterey Peninsula College and York School; where he once served as Headmaster. In 1993, he founded the Jim Tunney Youth Foundation to support local community programs that develop leadership, work skills, wellness and self-esteem in youth. He and his wife Linda live in Pebble Beach, California. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.

As an author he has written and/or co-authored thirteen books: Impartial Judgment, Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul, Speaking Secrets of the Masters, You Can Do It!, Super Bowl Sunday, Insights into Excellence, Lessons in Leadership, Build a Better You and his most recent book, It’s the Will, Not the Skill.

If you are looking for a keynote speaker who educates, motivates and entertains with a lifetime of stories about leadership, team building and sports 831-595-3258.

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