At Tuesday’s press conference held in connection with the quarterly ownership meetings, Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the decision to require players to wear knee and thigh pads as of 2013, subject to NFLPA approval.
Goodell claims that Nike, the league’s new apparel provider, has chimed in on the situation — a shocking development given that Nike manufactures and sells, you know, knee and thigh pads.
“The technology has advanced,” Goodell said. “In fact, the CEO of Nike recently told me when they introduced the new uniforms that NBA players were wearing more pads from the hips down than NFL players. There is something wrong with that. We need to put that protection in. You can discuss all you want; but at some point, you have to reach a conclusion.”
Goodell also bases the league’s position on the trickle-down influence of the NFL.
“[T]he pads are far better than they were even a decade ago,” Goodell said. “They’re more protective. They allow better performance. We also think it’s important. Every other level of football requires these pads and the NFL doesn’t. We think that’s part of sending the right signal to other levels of football.”
Some have suggested that the league also is motivated by a desire to undermine future concussion lawsuits by forcing players either to embrace the leg pads or face the argument that a bare knee to a helmet is more likely to cause a concussion than a padded knee. We tend to think that this is more about ensuring player availability for practices and games by reducing the types of injuries that occur when a bare knee hits a bare thigh.
We also think that, to the extent Nike can persuade NFL players to wear beneath their game pants compression shorts with integrated padding and in turn entice kids throughout the country to want to wear the same thing, shareholders will be even more happy that they purchased Nike instead of Facebook.