The NFL voted to make knee and thigh pads mandatory for next season in May. Since then, the biggest challenge selling players on it has been one of style, rather than safety.
NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson said in talking to players about the unpopular decision, it became clear the look was important.
“For some players, they need to pass the mirror test,” Anderson said, via A.J. Perez of FOXSports.com. “They like to look good, look sleek. They want to move unencumbered. It was important for us to address the performance and the aesthetics of the new pads.”
Owners will be updated on the new rule today in Dallas. Player input was heard by Nike and Under Armour in designing new pads, which will add protection while maintaining mobility. That doesn’t mean players are going to like it.
“For over a year we have been getting input, including from players, on what the padding will be like,” Anderson said. “But starting in 2013, thigh and knee pads will be required, like they were before 1994.”
A 2010 survey showed that only 30 percent of players chose to wear padding on their legs, with skill position players more likely to pass.