It’s been generations since something that happened on an Ivy League school’s football field had a serious impact on the game nationwide, but an innovation pioneered by Dartmouth and its head football coach, Buddy Teevens, may be on the cusp of changing the game -- not so much how it’s played as how it’s practiced.
While Americans are accustomed to seeing brutal hits during football games, people who haven’t played the sport themselves may be unaware of how much of a pounding players also take at practice, when the cameras aren’t running.
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With concerns about concussions and brain damage rising, Teevens in 2010 eliminated full-speed tackling from all Dartmouth practices. Injuries fell, performance improved and, perhaps coincidentally, Dartmouth last year won its first Ivy League title in a decade.
As a substitute for tackling players, Teevens challenged some former players to develop an alternative. What they came up with was the “MVP” -- Mobile Virtual Player -- a remote-controlled robot that moves as fast and weighs as much as a professional football player, and can pop right back up after taking a full-contact hit from a 250-pound linebacker. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been using it in their practice sessions.
Check out the video here: