Starting in 2013, the National Football League plans to make it mandatory for all players to wear knee and thigh pads. The decision has rubbed many current NFL defenders the wrong way. Oakland Raiders cornerback Ronald Bartell said that he’s willing to start saving money now a year in advance to pay for future fines for refusing to wear pads.
“Personally, I won’t be wearing them,” Bartell told the Contra Costa Times on Wednesday. ”So I’d better put some fine money away.”
The Raiders’ recently acquired cornerback missed virtually all of last year after suffering two neck fractures in the season opener. Selected in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Bartell was the second-longest tenured player and the top corner for most of his seven seasons with the St. Louis Rams.
The 6-1, 208-pound Bartell also brought another important issue to the table. He believes that leg pads slow players down without protecting against any serious injuries.
“It takes away from the speed of the game,” Bartell said. ”Hip pads, knee pads, thigh pads, they’re not going to stop you from tearing an ACL. It may stop a couple of soft-tissue injuries, but a knee pad isn’t going to stop a guy from blowing out a knee.”
It’s easy to see that his plan may not be a full-proof long-term solution. What happens if the punishment enforced by the league is not fining the player, but in fact an ejection from playing in the game or penalty to the team?
He would then have to suffer the consequences and be forced to wear the leg pads enforced for player safety.
There’s nothing wrong with respectfully speaking out, though. Former first-round pick and fellow teammate Michael Huff also tossed his two cents into the situation. The 6-1, 205-pound safety said at the University of Texas they used to “doctor up” the pads so you couldn’t tell they weren’t there.
“We cut ‘em out and just had a little foam, a little piece of paper there,” Huff said. ”But we never really wore ‘em.”