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Super Bowl Commercials: Football Safety History Ad Pretends Helmets Make NFL Safer

As promised, the NFL has used its in-house 2012 Super Bowl commercial to promote the safety gains football has made since its debut as a rough-and-tumble college sport that killed people beneath an inexorable flying wedge of bodies. It's really well-made—unfortunately, there's no evidence all the pads and helmets shown off in the commercial have made the game any safer; an increasing body of work suggests they make it less safe.

Here's a relevant ESPN story on it. As pads and helmets make a player feel safer, he's more likely to behave in ways that aren't safe, as anyone who's followed someone in a massive SUV will attest. Apparently it's called "risk compensation," and it is at least a little terrifying to anybody who wears a helmet when he rides a bike.

I don't know what the NFL could do about it, but I am convinced that if football players still worked in leather helmets without pads the game would be slower and the players would be less likely to severely concuss each other at a similar risk to themselves.