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Arizona equipment manager: Turn block the clock on face masks

Wendell Neal talks with quarterback Nick Foles before last season's game vs. The Citadel. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

The technology of football helmets keeps changing, keeps improving, and Arizona equipment manager Wendell Neal could talk to you about from here till Sunday.

“We’ll never prevent all concussions,” he said one day last month. “What we’re trying to do in this profession is just try to minimize the risk. It’s all about the odds.”

Neal has a suggestion for improving those odds.

Less is more.

“No one likes my idea, but I would take the face mask off the helmets. That would change a lot of the neck injuries and head injuries,” he said.

“My opinion is that it would force people to arm tackle and not use the head to spear and to not throw your face and head in there.

“And I don’t think anyone does it maliciously and purposefully, it’s just human nature. Technology is so good that you feel almost invincible.

“These facemasks, to me, they went from being defensive to offensive.”

Neal has one thing wrong.

He isn’t the only one who likes the idea.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno, on a Big Ten coaches teleconference with the media last fall, said: “I’ve been saying for years, we should get rid of the facemask. … It’s a weapon, guys are fearless.”

Savvy UA fans recently had reason for Internet happiness as Neal resumed his Arizona Equipment Blog after a summer hiatus. Look for behind-the-scenes photos and a unique perspective on the team.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 15th installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.

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