Over at ESPN, reporter Matt Winklejohn (Best porn name ever? Best porn name ever.) has written a piece about the technological advances in football equipment designed to prevent heat stroke in football players, particularly very young ones.
The most famous example of an NFL football player dying of heat stroke was the Vikings’ Korey Stringer back in 2001. Northwestern player Rashidi Wheeler also died of heat stroke that same year. It’s been a prominent issue in football circles ever since, but that doesn’t mean the problem has been solved, particularly at the high school level, where peer pressure is higher and coaches tend to be even more dictatorial.
Six high school and college players died of heat stroke last year. The danger is especially high in a state like Texas, which is more humid than a Turkish bath in September.
But some of the new technologies outlined in Winklejohn’s story look to be promising. TCU and UT are among the handful of schools (along with fire departments and military branches) that have purchased embeddable heat sensors for team helmets.
"If any [players] go over a pre-set threshold, like 102.5 degrees, it will turn that player's number from green to red and flashing,"
That means you should turn the player over and cook them until they’re a crunchy, golden brown.
But there’s more. How about air-conditioned shoulder pads? Former Cowboy Bill Bates was one of the first people to try them on.
Bates tried on some fancy shoulder pads.
Williams worked with researchers from the University of Florida who hatched the idea to develop air-conditioned shoulder pads.
The Gators tested the pads in '05, and now use the system regularly on the sidelines in high heat.
I, for one, would like air-conditioned shoulder pads just for casual wear. Heat exhaustion has been an issue for Bates ever since his playing days.
"IVs at halftime were normal for me, and after games," he said. "I was telling my wife on the way home from games to pull over so I could throw up because I was still overheated."
It makes you think about how lucky teams like the Cowboys were to NOT have a player drop dead back in those days. Winklejohn also details additional innovations, like cooling baths and ingestible thermometer pills, which are far more effective at gauging bodily temperatures than the Love Tester I squeezed at the bar last night. It’s a fascinating look at a worthy cause, and hopefully these are the kind of technological advances that will be keeping future Cowboys nice and cool for a long, long time.