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In the Monday night football game against the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboy star Tony Romo was outfitted with special Kevlar lined pads to protect his ailing ribs. Romo had to resort to wearing the pads after suffering a broken rib and a punctured lung. Romo’s injuries were caused by taking a brutal hit from San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks in Week 2.
The special pads were designed and developed by Unequal Technologies, and this was not the first time that the company has designed pads for an NFL quarterback. Last year Unequal Technologies mocked up similar types of pads for Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick after he damaged his rib cartilage in a game.
The material the pads are created with are reported to be five times stronger than steel and they are the no. 1 shock suppression material in the world, according to Unequal Technologies. However, there is some validity to the statements made by Unequal Technologies. On CBS’ The NFL Today Show, Dan Marino swung a bat at Boomer Esiason, as he shielded himself using some of the protective material.
While Boomer did feel the impact of the strike, he was able to walk away, unharmed. Albeit Marino’s shot was more on the side of an overly aggressive love tap than a full out swing, the material gave Boomer the willingness to be hit in the ribs with a baseball bat and not have any regrets about his decision.
The Kevlar pads obviously provide an extra layer of a protection, and the question that should be on every players lips is why these haven’t become league standard. The pads should not just become standard for QB’s, but for every player who gets on the field. In 2010 30 percent of all NFL players had to miss a game due to injury according to the NFLPA.
Jason Witten, the Cowboys star tight end, was also fitted with a pair of the pads for Monday night’s game so he could return to the football action early. Unequal Technologies’ creation could prevent some of these injuries from happening or from becoming a serious issue. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been quoted as saying “One of our most important priorities is protecting our players…”
It is encouraging to hear that from Commissioner Goodell , but first a plan of attack needs to be form to tackle the issue of lower body padding. The NFL doesn’t mandate that players wear knee and thigh pads, but does recommend the idea. As a result players, mostly running backs, tend to ignore the recommendation and choose not to wear lower pads.
It is believed by players they can obtain faster speeds quicker and for longer without the hindrance of bulky lower pads. Without pads on the lower extremities chances of players getting injured are increased; this plays a part in why running backs are habitually sidelined for weeks at a time.
While there has been talk by league offices to enforce players to wear the lower padding, at the moment nothing has come to fruition. However the NFL should receive some credit because addressing the issue is a crucial first step on the path to maximum player safety.
With any luck in the near future, when players suit up on Sunday’s they will be covered from head to toe in best padding, even if that padding just happens to be made of Kevlar
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