Shutdown Corner

NFL to mandate knee and thigh pads for players

Chris Chase
Shutdown Corner

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If the NFL has its way, players will be forced to wear knee and thigh pads beginning in 2013. The NFL might not get its way.

The competition committee will discuss the impending rule with the NFL Players Association and there is some expected backlash from players who may believe the additional padding will affect their mobility. The pad rule wouldn't go into effect until 2013 so equipment manufacturers can refine the design for speed and comfort.

[Related: Tom Brady's dad would think twice about letting son play in concussion era]

Rich McKay, the Atlanta Falcons president who chairs the NFL's competition committee, explained the rule change at an owners meeting:

"There's no downside, they have to add some sort of protection," he said. "In our football system, everyone wears them up to our game. Common sense tells you it has to be safer for (protection against) thigh injuries and knee bruises. If players have worn it in Pop Warner, high school and college ... from a safety standpoint it is time to put it back in."

There are valid arguments for the adoption of new leg padding. McKay hits on none of them. Instead, he cites "common sense" instead of actual data and breaks out the "but high schools and colleges do it" argument, as if the NFL is usually in the habit of following the lead of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

McKay also suggests there's no downside, a claim that's both wrong and frivolous. Of course there's a downside; they can make players run slower. The benefits may outweigh the drawbacks, the same way wearing a seatbelt and being slightly uncomfortable is better than not wearing a seatbelt and going through your windshield. But "no downside"? That's Rich.

Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Troy Vincent, now an NFL vice president, was equally confusing in his support of the new rule.

"It's psychological," he said, according to the Associated Press. "Less pads you are faster, skinnier, that's just the way I was introduced to the game. It's a culture shift. They will adjust."

So it is psychological or do less pads make you faster?

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