GREEN BAY – With a wife and three – soon to be four – kids, when Greg Jennings shops for a car, he looks closely at the vehicle’s safety rating, even though growing up in Michigan he was a fan of the classics.
The Green Bay Packers two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is taking the same approach with his helmet. While the Riddell model he’s sporting now after an Aug. 3 concussion might not look the way he’d like, but he’s interested in more than aesthetics.
“I actually tried it out a couple days after I came back and gave it a shot, and it was extremely comfortable. It’s the top-of-the-line helmet,” Jennings said after practice Monday, having worn the helmet in a game for the first time last Thursday at Cincinnati. “Looks are important – I don’t particularly care for the way the helmet looks -- but it didn’t look bad enough for me to go back to my helmet that I was in.
“It’s kind of like an old-school car versus a 2013 model. There’s obviously upgrades and safety and things that are going to allow you a more comfortable, safe ride. Same as the helmet. But old-school ones, if you pull them out, they look great, but you don’t drive them as often, because if something were to happen, you might be in trouble.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers switched helmets to a more protective, anti-concussion model after two concussions during the 2010 season. The design brings the ear flaps farther around the player’s jawline and fits slightly more snugly in other areas. While no helmet is truly concussion-proof, the design is believed to be more concussion-resistant.
Jennings, who according to the Packers medical staff has had three concussions during his NFL career (he believes he’s only had two), said he doesn’t think the NFL has to mandate that players all wear the same helmet as he is, but that they would like the helmet if they tried it.
“You can’t just put a player in something he’s not comfortable in,” Jennings said. “I think that’s one of the things that prevents a lot of guys from wearing this helmet. A lot of us have been used to the old-school helmets, the old-school style. That’s all we’ve ever worn, so that’s the look that everyone wants.
“But as far as comfort, there is not a more comfortable helmet than that. Hands down. I can say it’s an opinion, but I’m pretty sure that it would be fact if everyone tried the helmet on. You can’t get a more comfortable helmet.”
Jennings said he’s always had the mentality that, while loving the game of football, it doesn’t define him and he won’t keep playing well past his prime.
“You want to take advantage of the opportunity, but at the same time, get out while you still have your health. That’s kind of my mindset,” Jennings said. “I definitely want to make as much as I can make, win as much as I can win, but at the end of the day, I want to be able to walk away from the game 100 percent healthy. I don’t want to cut any corners when it comes to my health, because I’m going to have to live like that for the remainder of my life.”
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