Raiders cornerback Ron Bartell is one of the many NFL players who doesn’t wear knee and thigh pads and doesn’t like the NFL’s plan to make them mandatory starting in 2013. So he has a simple plan: He’s saving up some money now to pay whatever fines he gets for refusing to wear the pads a year from now.
“Personally, I won’t be wearing them,” Bartell told the Contra Costa Times. “So I’d better put some fine money away.”
Bartell’s bravado sounds good now, but there’s a major flaw in his plan: He’s assuming that the NFL will enforce the mandatory leg pads by fining the players who don’t wear them. It’s possible that the NFL will enforce the mandatory leg pads by instructing the officials to tell any player who’s not wearing leg pads to put them on, and eject them from the game if they refuse. If that’s the case, Bartell is going to wear leg pads or he’s not going to be an NFL player.
Bartell said he doesn’t see the point in leg pads because he believes they slow players down without protecting against serious injuries.
“It takes away from the speed of the game,” Bartell said. “Hip pads, knee pads, thigh pads. They’re not going to stop you from tearing an ACL. It may stop a couple of soft-tissue injuries, but a knee pad isn’t going to stop a guy from blowing out a knee.”
Those concerns are valid, but the best course of action for Bartell would be to get involved with the negotiations between the players’ union and the league about the best way to implement the mandatory leg pads next season. Simply refusing to go along with the new rule isn’t going to work.