High School Teams Pay Tribute To Paralyzed Rutgers PlayerBy Dave Carlin

WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (CBS 2) — A Friday night football tribute was paid to paralyzed Rutgers player Eric LeGrand.

At a high school game in West New York, N.J., a team honored LeGrand by placing his number 52 on their helmets.

And on the Rutgers campus, number 52 jerseys are being sold, with proceeds going to LeGrand’s family, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

LeGrand was left paralyzed after a head injury during a game last week. His injury is raising questions about whether helmets provide adequate player protection.

Rita Shapskinsky of Jersey City was cheering for son, Blake, but said watching him play always has her fearing for his safety.

“He absolutely loves the game and I pray every night to tell you the truth, because I’m really worried about it,” Shapskinsky said.

Like most players’ parents, she dreads injuries.

It’s a fear that has been exacerbated by a spate of life-endangering mishaps at the collegiate and professional levels. 

And now a new report says players’ helmets may be exposing them to danger.

They are considered the single most important piece of equipment in the game. But are they providing adequate protection?

“The new helmets, you know, I feel pretty safe. You know? But I guess you always gotta be worried,” Blake Shapskinsky said.

“I feel pretty safe out there,” Matthew Apicella said.

Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, said helmet standards have remained unchanged since the mid 1970s.

“There isn’t currently a quote unquote policeman in the field checking on these helmets,” Cantu said.

Designed to guard against skull fractures, they fall short of preventing concussions. Even wearing the most advanced helmet, a player’s brain can may be sloshed around during a hard impact.

There were a shocking 55,000 concussions and two deaths nationwide during last year’s football season.

“Research is being done to determine if there is any additions or changes that can be made to make the helmets more protective for concussions,” said Mike Oliver, executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

As helmet research continues experts say everyone must be aware of the risks, and train properly to make this rugged sport less dangerous.

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