When we last left the Ginger Hammer, he was sending Gregg Williams to the bad corner and proving, once and for all, that violence has no place in football. And today, Roger Goodell has yet taken yet another step in showing the world that HE MEANS GINGER BUSINESS when it comes to player safety. Pending NFLPA approval, the league will now mandate that all players wear leg and thigh pads, something Goodell has long been pushing for. Back in January 2011, he got one of his meat puppets, Chris Mortensen, to frame the initiative precisely as he wanted it phrased:
Owners, general managers and coaches have expressed frustration that players who desire to play at the fastest possible speed by removing all leg pads suffer injuries that cause them to miss playing time.
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: Football would be a much safer sport if it weren't for all these goddamn football players. Don't blame owners for these football injuries! They specifically encouraged all players to wrap themselves in Owens Corning insulation and bring each other down using only stunning Yeats references. Every football injury that has ever been sustained has been sustained because some GLORY BOY player went rogue and disobeyed all of the NFL's recommendations. Never mind that most players feel compelled to eschew pads because it allows them to play faster and therefore keep their jobs. Or that owners never gave a shit about the issue until, you know, right this very minute.
Florio is right to note that Nike, which will produce Pro Combat (good name for nonviolent sporting apparel!) gear, will now be getting a massive product launch thanks to the institution of this rule. Goodell even indirectly pimps Nike's crap himself: "The pads are far better than they were even a decade ago. They're more protective. They allow better performance."
They're also far costlier. A pair of regular Pro Combat compression shorts costs $40. A pair of Pro Combat Hyperstrong shorts with built-in carbon pads costs $175. And God only knows if you can put that shit in a washing machine.
Most of the coverage I'm seeing today calls this a "player safety rule." No, this is a league liability rule. This is about warding off future litigation and shifting culpability for the NFL's health crisis onto the supposedly heedless men who play the game. This is about the league wanting to be able to say in court one day: "Look at all these new rules. Look how much we cared about player safety, even if the players didn't." Go back and read Mort's report. He just eats Goodell's shit and puts all of this in the most paternalistic way possible: The commissioner and his noble band of owners are looking after their reckless little children because if they don't, surely they'll strap buckets to their heads and play RAM RAM all day long.
More from Goodell:
In fact, the CEO of Nike recently told me when they introduced the new uniforms that NBA players were wearing more pads from the hips down than NFL players. There is something wrong with that.
You know what's "wrong"? That the commissioner of the NFL is taking his player safety cues from FUCKING NIKE.
We also think it's important. Every other level of football requires these pads and the NFL doesn't. We think that's part of sending the right signal to other levels of football.
It sure does, and that signal is: "Hey, lower levels of football! You should totally do that thing you already do that we never bothered to get around to until Junior Seau died! And buy Pro Combat, because it looks cool as fuck!" I think that's a message our children need to hear in 2012.