Those are the kinds of hits that will cause brain damage, and I really don't know if there is anyway to prevent them.
I think the NFL is already paving the way for drastic changes.
This will officially hijack the thread, but it seems like a good place to bring this up for discussion.
My Dad and I used to have this discussion all the time before he died 10 years ago. He was in all likelihood the last player to wear a leather helmet in Louisiana football...having played on Jesuit's 1952 State Championship team as a 16 year old senior. While the rest of the team went with what he called Oklahoma style helmets (which would have been plastic shells with canvas strapping on the inside to create cushion (and still no masks), he preferred the fit and feel of the leather. As a guy that grew up and played in the 80's, the thought of playing organized ball without a hard helmet or facemask was astonishing to me...but he always made a great point. I played TONS of tackle football in sandlots and fields...probably more than I played in pads to be honest. In all that time, no one EVER head a head injury...and it was because without a facemask and hard shelled helmet giving a player a feeling of invulnerability, people tend not to lower their faces looking to use the top of their head as a ram. sure...you make get a busted nose, mouth, black eye...you may even lose teeth if not wearing a mouth piece...but severe neck injuries? Usually no.
I think he was right, and I think equipment manufacturers are in a tough spot. On the one hand, you've got the tradition of the game which seems to lean towards huge, LOUD hits which can only take place with hard plastic armor like equipment...so they try and make helmets "safer" by trying to make potential helmet to helmet shots glance off instead of dead on impacts...but this is a losing proposition.
Think of a helmet like a race car...and the driver in the brain. Race cars are now designed to crumple and absorb the impact rather than place the total force onto the driver inside. throw away helmets that crumple after every hit can't work...but what about soft helmets that absorb impact from the outside rather than hard helmets that place all the force towards the inside of the helmet and the brain? This is a radical suggestion, I know...and as much as I LOVE the look and feel of football helmets and all that entails, I hate even suggesting it. But then I'm a 42 year old guy whose playing days are long over...so I don't count. But if player safety is important, why not look at ALL possible fixes to this problem?
Rant over...and to reiterate, thankfully Ridley id fine!