Extra padding remains not mandatory
The NFL has pushed a number of new safety initiatives for the 2011 season but mandatory padding for its players won’t be one of them.
FOXSports.com has learned plans that would force players to wear knee and thigh pads were tabled until at least the 2012 campaign. The delay is connected to the prolonged labor negotiations that didn’t produce a new Collective Bargaining Agreement until late July.
“We will continue to evaluate for upcoming years,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told FOXSports.com in an email Tuesday.
As first reported by FOXSports.com in July 2010, the NFL had hoped to craft an agreement with the NFL Players Association that would allow referees to bar players from participating who weren’t wearing mandatory padding. Some NFL players eschew such protection for reasons that include comfort and concerns that the padding may affect their speed and movement.
By making such padding mandatory, the NFL wanted to reduce the number of severe leg bruises that can sideline players who aren’t wearing such protection. The NFL experimented with a prototype uniform last season that had protective pads sewn into the pants.
The new CBA does include provisions that should improve player safety such as a reduction in practices and the amount of contact allowed in those sessions. The NFL also has revamped its concussion protocol in hopes of better diagnosing head injuries that occur during games.
The league stopped making knee, hip and thigh pads mandatory on game days in 1995. Players are also not required to wear mouthpieces, which are medically believed to help reduce concussion risk.