NFL Mandates Leg and Knee Pads, But Roger Goodell Has a Long Way to Go in Improving Player Safety


NFL Mandates Leg and Knee Pads, But Roger Goodell Has a Long Way to Go in Improving Player SafetyThe NFL took another step toward improving player safety on Tuesday when the league passed a rule mandating all players wear thigh and knee pads at all times, starting with the 2013 season.

Roger Goodell has made it a point to improve player safety during his time as commissioner. While concussions have been the league's biggest concern, Goodell also thinks more pads would be a good idea, and he doesn't see any drawbacks with the new rule.

The players aren't exactly on the same page as Mr. Commissioner on this one, though. Several have already voiced their objections. Other veterans of the game say it will just take some adjusting.

"It's psychological. Less pads, you are faster, skinnier. That's just the way I was introduced to the (pro) game," former Pro Bowl safety Troy Vincent told The Associated Press. "It's a culture shift. They will adjust."

Leg pads aren't really the issue here, though. Players will get used to them, and if the pads prevent a handful of injuries each season, the rule will have been a success.

But is the NFL missing the bigger picture?

Concussions have been discussed for hours on end, and the NFL is at least attempting to try to resolve that issue.

But the new mandatory pads rule is something the NFL will merely point to when accused of ignoring player safety. What seems to be missing from the discussion is how the NFL's own rules have made the game more dangerous.

So, the league wants everyone to wear leg pads? Awesome. Strap them on. But what about the massive helmets players wear today? Are those supposed to increase safety? Because with increased head shots in the league, helmets are used as a weapon as often as they are used for protection.

And what about forcing defenders to play off the line of scrimmage? The decrease in contact makes players safer while increasing scoring, right? In reality, the new pass interference rules have created way too much open space, resulting in high-speed collisions and, you guessed it, more head injuries.

Leg pads aren't going to have a huge impact on the game. The new rule is a start, but more signifcant changes are needed if player safety is the true goal. Players, fans and league officials can't be satisfied with this small victory.

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