In a move that almost surely will face resistance from the players, the NFL tells USA Today that the league wants its participants to be more safety conscious during games. As in, wear more padding.
On the surface, it sounds like a no-brainer. Of course , the players should be wearing helmets and shoulder pads and thigh pads and back pads and hip pads and brake pads .
But that’s not what the players want, because, for much of the time, safety isn’t a player’s first priority. Being successful, no matter the cost, is what’s No. 1. So, the skill positions – wide receivers, defensive backs, and linebackers – forgo the extra protection so they can move faster.
From USA Today;
But Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to make the game safer for players — and help teams avoid man-hours lost to otherwise preventable injuries. The league also wants to set a safety example for college and high school players, Anderson said.
The NFL will ask players from 12 of its 32 clubs (from the East Coast to allow for easier access for league personnel) to experiment with newer, lighter knee, thigh and hip pads during training camps and preseason games this summer. The players can use the equipment during the regular season if they want.
The NFL rulebook recommends players wear knee, hip and thigh pads, but only uniforms, helmets and shoulder pads are mandatory.
"It's not mandated for 2010. But we anticipate we'll need to mandate it going forward," said Ray Anderson, the NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations. "We're not going to relinquish on player safety. Particularly when we know we can prevent lost workdays and help players stay on the field. That's to their benefit and the club's benefit."
Yet, if Goodell really wanted to make the game safer – which is probably a near-impossible notion in the current NFL – he would be sympathetic to the players’ needs if the owners try to implement an 18-game schedule (I’m not necessarily saying that he isn’t sensitive to those needs. I guess we’ll see during labor negotiations).
Less contact during the week and less hitting during the season is a start. That would almost certainly be safer than mandating that everybody wear thigh pads.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.