Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Take a Knee (Pad)

News from the NFL Owners' meeting that the league will mandate thigh and knee pads for all players, beginning with the 2013 season. The NFLPA is objecting to the rule being implemented outside of collective bargaining, but that seems overly political to me.

The thigh pads were very prominent in the mannequins at Nike's unveiling event, but I didn't think they'd actually require players to wear them.

The easy snark is that "knee pads will do soooo much to prevent concussions", but this seems to me to be consistent with the NFL's overall goals so far. There is no inconsistency in stressing player safety while exploring an 18-game season; in fact, the former is a prerequisite to the latter.

I do worry, though, that it's a step in the wrong direction. Adding body armor is what got the NFL into the situation it is now, and for years I've been arguing that the solution is to reduce padding, not increase it. Then again, I'm not terribly sympathetic to the union's concerns, considering how many former players are currently suing the league over the NFL's ignoring safety concerns, and how many current players continue to demonstrate their profound objections to the ongoing safety concerns.

At the very least, mandating knee pads will end the biker-shorts look that many receivers, notably Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, have been wearing in recent years:

UPDATE 5/23/12:   Paul Lukas reminds me of this excellent article by Stephen Fatsis on the reasons behind players abandoning pads.


Vaultsuit said...


This rule won't prevent receivers from donning way too short pants :>

Chance Michaels said...

They're not wearing pads in training camp - we'll see what they look like on the field...