Quick question: If James Harrison were wearing a hockey helmet instead of a football helmet, would we be having a discussion about whether he was guilty of helmet to helmet hits on Sunday?

The NFL is having serious discussions again about head shots and lots of analysts are worried that they are going to take more hitting out of the game.

And they’re all missing the point.

It’s the helmets, stupid.

Remember those leather helmets they used to wear? They were used to protect the player from being injured.  The better the helmets got the more dangerous the game became.

I’ve written here a few times that eliminating the face mask would greatly reduce or eliminate shots like the ones that Harrison took on Sunday.

The helmets are so good that there is no fear of being injured if you use them as battering rams.

Again, they started out only as a protective measure.

Ever seen a rugby match?

There’s a lot of tackling going on there and no blocking. A defender actually has to wrap a ball carrier up and tackle him and nobody is diving into piles head first. No helmets.

They’re always looking for ways to make the helmets more protective and all they’ve succeeded in doing is making helmets that can withstand the force of another helmet.

What if  NFL players started wearing hockey helmets? Their heads would be protected from knees, elbows, forearms and the ground, but they wouldn’t need to protect them from the other helmets because nobody would be stuoid enough to think he could get away with turning himself into a missile without getting hurt.

I’d be willing to bet that smaller, less protective helmets would reduce the number of head injuries.

And, by the way, I get tired of hearing how those head shots–legal or otherwise–show what a tough guy Harrison is.

You know who’s tough? Joshua Cribbs for being willing to go over the middle and expose himself to those hits. When does Harrison ever have to worry about taking a hit like that?

I don’t think it tales a lot of toughness to hurl yourself head first at a guy who’s been teed up and can’t hit back.

Remember, we’re talking about a guy who’s been known to beat up women.

It took a much tougher guy to get in the way of, say, Marion Motley, with no face mask and a flimsy helmet. A player had to actually, you know, tackle the running back.