The NFL will indeed be taking a closer look at the effectiveness of gloves. Specifically, the league will look at whether the gloves are too effective.
“There are no standards right now,” NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent said during Thursday’s conference call regarding the proposed rule changes for 2016. “We have been working with our partners — Under Armour, Nike — to see how we could adjust and have some minimum standards. The challenge is the tackiness, and the gloves now are so tacky that it’s taking away from the true skill level. So we have been working with our manufactures and partners, Virginia Tech, in trying to create a standard in all protective equipment and in particular the gloves. So that frankly is a work in progress because there is no standards in the industry and it appears that we have to create one.”
Vincent explained that the review has been ongoing for the last 18 months, and that changes could be coming next year.
“It’s been brought up with our subcommittee — coaches subcommittee — Coach Madden has brought it up the last two years and then working with Virginia Tech and some of the companies, the manufacturers,” Vincent said. “Our reasons for it and obviously the commercial side are much different. We now have taken it upon ourselves as a league as we look into protective equipment and try to create a standard. We’re not into that business, but we’re now involved. Again, working with Virginia Tech and trying to come up with a mode. So hoping to have some better answers and better solutions. It won’t be this particular season, but as we look at the 2017 campaign, we hope to have better answers and better standards as it pertains to gloves.”
John Madden expressed concern regarding the quality of the gloves last year in comments to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
“No one looks at those gloves,” Madden said. “I saw them when I was at a meeting in Indy. They passed them around and somebody made the comment that, ‘Pretty soon, these gloves are going to be able to catch a ball without a hand in them.’”
The gloves have gotten incredibly effective, making it much easier to catch a ball with one hand.
Obviously, making gloves less effective will make spectacular catches less common. Before the league develops a standard that makes it harder to players to make those kinds of grabs, the league needs to ask itself whether it would like to have fewer highlight-reel receptions.