Neurosurgeons in the last half-century have had considerable influence on modern-day athletics. In this article, the authors address the contributions made by neurosurgeons as clinician-scientists, particularly as these relate to the understanding and reduction of the incidence and severity of injury to the nervous system during athletic competition. American football has been a proving ground for the ability of the craniospinal axis to withstand and, in unfortunate cases, succumb to tremendous impact forces; in this way, it has served as a model for translational research and was the arena in which Dr. Richard Schneider made his greatest contributions to sports neurosurgery. Therefore, in his memory and in the spirit of the Schneider lectureship, the authors outline the notable contribution to modern-day athletics made by neurosurgeons as it applies to American football. Neurosurgeons have had considerable influence on reducing injury severity, and this cause has been championed by a few notable individuals whose efforts are discussed herein.