The emphasis on player safety in football has undoubtably increased over the last decade. This emphasis on player safety has in some ways created a divide between the “Old School” and “New School” definitions of toughness and how the game was “meant” to be played. At times, it seems like most people want to toe the line between these two schools of thought. Big hits are exciting, just like the wrecks in NASCAR and Formula 1 are. In most cases the athletes dust themselves off and live to play another down and drive another race. However, in some cases these big hits or wrecks can be life-changing. I use football and motorsport as examples here because both sports have evolved tremendously since their inception to improve player safety. Rules and equipment evolve to prevent injuries, especially the catastrophic ones. It’s about time we all start embracing the evolution of sports and prioritize safety over everything. In this episode of the pod I chat with former Fayetteville State University teammates Tracey Suggs and Foster Wilkins about why they shifted their mentalities from “Old School” to “New School” and their bold idea to create a brand called Protect Your Skull that reminds everyone what is really important.
Below you will find a list of other talking points we touch on throughout the interview:
Foster Wilkins’ experience as a coach college coach and what led to the shift in his mentality on player safety.
Why strong character, leadership, work Ethic/discipline are key factors for improving player safety.
The responsibility players and coaches have to ensure player safety and how a coach’s attitude often reflects in players’ attitudes.
The player safety awards the guys are giving out vs. the hardest hit award we grew up yearning for.
Partnership with the Derek Sheely Foundation (Second Impact Syndrome).
Other philanthropy projects Protect Your Skull is involved in.
The same injuries occur across all levels of football and other sports, but there is a huge disparity in equipment and medical coverage.
Why you cannot win without safety.
The importance of empowering the athlete to speak up when they are hurt.
Why parents need to emphasis that their children have more to offer to the world than their sport.
Why former teammates can’t believe they are promoting safety based on their style of play back in the day.
“It can’t be Foster out there talking about safety, he’d try to kill you out there.”
“It was about Head Hunting.”
Why the love of the game is their inspiration.
Why old toughness is a weakness and is actually rooted in fear.
Darius Ramsey Story (below).
Thoughts on concussion awareness month.
The Sport Hydration Recovery Drink – Outside the box thinking to shift the culture.