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Mandatory knee pad controversy went away quietly

NFL Meetings Football

A sample of the new thigh pads the NFL made mandatory equipment for the 2013 football season sit on a chair following a news conference at an owners meeting, Tuesday, May 22, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)


There once was a time when players were steadfastly opposed to a new rule which mandated leg and thigh pads, with many players talking tough about refusing to wear them.

Yeah, that didn’t last long.

According to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, the NFLPA said only a small number of players were fined for trying to skirt the rules, and the union was no longer fighting the change.

“Our experience is that the players have been following the rules,” NFLPA executive George Atallah said. “There doesn’t seem to be enough of a sample size to determine a reduction on injuries. The union continues to look at and review all health and safety initiatives.”

The league said it would continue to study the safety impact, and that one season was enough time to see if the pads made a difference in injury rates.

“As with every season, there were equipment and uniform fines for improper equipment and uniform presentation,” NFL vice president of operations Merton Hanks said. “We will continue to be diligent in rules enforcement. Fortunately, our equipment and uniform inspectors consistently aided players in making equipment adjustments to avoid fines for improper knee and thigh padding.

“An informal survey of head coaches and general managers state that this is now a non-issue and is a part of the fabric of the NFL.”

To be honest, it was always a bit of a non-issue, and many players were only arguing out of either vanity of because arguing with authority is a default position.