All this talk about how the rule changes inacted to protect players is changing the game got me thinking. Helmets and shoulder pads are hard. Do they really have to be? Think about it. With model technology and advanced fibers, can't a helmet be constructed with a much softer shell. I can envision a helmet that looks nearly identical to the helmets used now except with multiple layers. There must be at least three inches between the pads that touch the inside of the players head and the outside shell. Can't a helmet be constructed with a soft inside, a hard internal structure for stability and to anchor the face mask, and a soft exterior shell. With a softer exterior to the helmet you could also soften up the face masks. A similar concept could be used to soften shoulder pads. We could get rid of most of these silly contact rules and reduce injuries at the same time. The NFL just needs to think outside the box a little on this.