The man on the other end of the phone is laughing.
What he finds funny is the suggestion some NFL players have made in response to the NFL’s mandate on thigh and knee pads this season. These players say the pads will slow them down.
"I’ll call BS on that," Adrian Peterson told FOX Sports once he stopped laughing. "It’s like, ‘You’re a National Football League player. If a pad that doesn’t weigh but a couple of ounces slows you down, you don’t need to be playing in this league.’ Like, come on now. Seriously.
"Guys like to be pretty, not wear the thigh pads and knee pads, but it protects you. There have been plenty of times I got hit in my knee and when I had my pants pulled up too high and that pad wasn’t there to protect it. It didn’t feel good. So I make sure I keep my pads pulled down and covering my knee just to be able to protect my body."
The Minnesota Vikings running back is a self-described "ambassador" for the NFL’s new mandate. He wore thigh, knee and hip pads on his way to 2,097 rushing yards less than a year removed from a torn ACL last season.
Peterson won’t have any issue abiding by the league’s new rule, which states players will be taken off the field and forbidden to return until they’re properly padded. The Nike compression shorts he wears with the hard, carbon-fiber thigh plates affixed to the top of the padded shorts passed the restriction tests that were conducted at the University of Virginia on old and new equipment this offseason.
There is a wave of new technology that’s much different than the pads Pop Warner and high-school players have been using for years. Nike, Under Armour and other companies provide padding that is lightweight but also extremely protective and durable.
Despite such advances, some players are griping.
“I don’t like them,” Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline told the Miami Herald last week. “Really, they don’t do a whole lot. I appreciate them taking the initiative, trying to protect the players, but I don’t think the biggest [injuries] are prevented from knee and thigh pads.”
In addition to disagreeing with Hartline’s assessment, Peterson serves as proof protection doesn’t have to come at the cost of comfort.
"The guys who are around me know: ‘Shoot, Adrian wore every pad there is – elbow pads, forearm pads.’ They’re surprised I don’t have a neck roll on," Peterson said. "Yeah, man, I tell those guys and try to lobby to those guys like Percy (Harvin) when he was here, ‘Hey man, put those knee pads on, put those thigh pads on. You don’t want to get any thigh contusions and things like that you can avoid by wearing those pads.’"
The next few weeks will be an adjustment period for players at skill positions who aren’t used to wearing leg pads.
Many defensive backs, wide receivers and even linebackers have gone without thigh or knee padding in recent years. Most running backs and quarterbacks have at least some padding on their legs because they often get hit down there. (Kickers and punters are exempt in the new rule and aren’t required to wear leg pads.)
But players such as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez, the San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore and former Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee have worn little or no padding in their pants. That will change soon, as players will face uniform fines of $5,250 for a first offense and $11,000 for a second infraction in addition to being removed from games.