NFL players still wear knee pads while many college football players don’t. Many football fans wonder why football players don’t use knee pads anymore. In order to protect their lower legs, NFL players have been required to wear small knee pads under their football pants since 2013.
It had become common for players to stop wearing thigh pads and knee pads while playing prior to the 2013 rule that made these pads mandatory. The NFL made these padding mandatory in the name of health and safety.
During an NFL game, officials will remove any player who does not wear knee or thigh pads.
Approximately 70% of NFL players had decided not to wear knee or thigh pads before this ruling.
All players in the NFL were forced to add this equipment to their game once the NFL enforced this equipment rule.
This still begs the question of why so many NFL players don’t wear knee pads?
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Bulky Equipment Slows Players Down
Due to the bulkiness of knee pads, many football players have stopped wearing them.
The knee pads and thigh pads of today are quite small and are designed to allow the player to move freely. In the past, these pads were much bulkier and made players feel sluggish.
While today’s knee pads are fairly sleek, many college football players still prefer to play without them. The reasoning behind this is that less equipment allows for greater mobility and speed.
As football players have been shrinking their equipment for years, this is not a brand-new phenomenon.
You can see how much these players value slimmer equipment by looking at how much shoulder pads have changed over the past year.
Some positions are bulkier than others. Quarterbacks wear wristbands, fanny packs, and towels more often than running backs and wide receivers.
Some players sacrificed their knee pads in order to move more freely on the field, which increased their risk of pain and injury.
Health And Safety Has Improved
Football players may have stopped wearing knee pads before knee pads became mandatory due to increased health and safety concerns.
Football’s governing bodies have always included rules to protect their players, such as banning wedges on kick returns and double-team blocks.
Players felt they could get away with less equipment with fewer dangerous hits happening to them.
One of the most dangerous places on the body is the lower body. Several rules have been put in place to prevent players’ knees and ankles from being injured as often.
Players may have ditched knee pads due to this emphasis on safety.
They Are No Longer In Style
A second reason is that knee pads are no longer fashionable in football, which led to a sharp decline in their use.
During the 1980s and 1990s, players wore bulkier and more bulky equipment. As style changed, players began wearing tighter and sleeker gear.
Many players chose not to wear knee pads until 2013 because they didn’t like the look. At the time, 70% of NFL players didn’t wear knee pads, so if you did, you would likely stand out.