It happens a few times a week, with varying levels of severity. An official will get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suddenly, he's got armor-clad, 280-pound, highly conditioned man-beasts stampeding at him like he's drunk in Pamplona on the wrong weekend. Meanwhile, he's protected by a hat.
Not for much longer, perhaps. Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that helmets on umpires is an issue on the table for 2010, and last night on the NFL Network, NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira reiterated that protecting officials is an issue the league is looking at.
If we just put helmets on umpires (the brave gentlemen you'll find out there right behind the linebackers), that wouldn't have done much to help out the back judge who got trampled in the Steelers/Vikings game. Should we make helmets mandatory for umpires and optional for everyone else?
And what kind of helmet are we talking about? NHL, Dan Marouelli-style? Do we need facemasks? Should they just get black-and-white striped NFL helmets? Something like boxing headgear? Perhaps an MLB batting helmet? Race car driving helmets? I think something like this would be kind of awesome.
I don't know the answer here. Maybe we should just keep a list of NFL players who run into officials, intentionally or otherwise. Then at the end of the week, they get locked into a room with Ed Hochuli, whose fists are wrapped in double-sided tape and rolled through broken glass.
That seems like the fairest thing for everybody.