William Correro column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Equipment rules went through modification with eye shields

A few weeks ago I made a reference to “idiots with money” and Atlanta quarterback and former dog-fighter Mike Vick, and I should have known something was coming to give me a different view.

And I’m not talking about Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb and his big mouth either. No, I had a nice surprise last weekend at The Swamp. I was watching the warm-ups on the field at the Florida sideline when a gentleman I didn’t know walked up, stuck out his hand and said, “How are you? I’m Wayne Huizenga of the Miami Dolphins (the owner). Where are you from?”

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I told him and we spoke a few minutes – he had heard of our Northwest Community College. He told me he has always been very impressed with the SEC and that included the officials. I was really impressed. Here was a big person worth more than a few banks’ assets taking time to speak to me and extend a welcome to Florida. So, not all those with money are idiots.

Also spoke to Kenny Chesney, who is a big Tennessee fan, when he wandered by about thirty minutes before kickoff. I knew it was him because of his height or lack of height. I’m no country music fan by any means but I did speak and shake hands. He had on a Boston Red Sox hat that I offered to buy for a dollar and then told him it was so he could get a real one from the Yankees. He had a laugh and went on his way after offering a hand slap and a “Good Luck.” Again, not all those with big money are big idiots.

Since none of the above has anything to do with football, let’s talk some on an equipment rule that has been modified every year for the past several seasons. More and more players are wearing eye shields, a clear plastic cover that is attached to the face mask to protect the player’s eyes. Or so they say.

I remember just a few years ago all the almost black-tinted ones worn by some players both in high school and college. I never could understand how those dark ones didn’t hinder vision – especially in a night game. Then a few years ago, the trainers across the country expressed a concern about seeing a seriously injured player’s eyes through one of those. Seeing those linebackers looking like Darth Vader across the line at the quarterback and me always made me somewhat nervous. A few years ago the rule was changed to only allow tinted ones if the player had a doctor’s prescription letter stating how the player needed it.

I was amazed at how many of these defensive backs, running backs, and receivers had poor vision and managed to get their eye care professional to oblige. But the next rule change was inevitable: it now states the only eye shield allowed must be completely clear. No tinted shields are allowed in either high school or college football. It was a miracle! All of a sudden all these skill players developed healthy eyes! The truth is the dark shields prevented their opponents from seeing their eyes and knowing what they were going to do.

But I have noticed that even a clear shield makes it somewhat difficult to get a good read on the eyes. I guess it’s the price you pay because it would drive me nuts in rainy weather looking through the raindrops. No rule against using RainX though.