Football in 2018 is sleek. It is about scoring and speed. The players do not want to be encumbered by extraneous protective equipment. Shoulder pads have gotten smaller and smaller, and the frontier is being pushed every day. Michael Bennett wears kicker shoulder pads.
It was not always this way. Football players in the 1980s and 1990s wore huge shoulder pads. Talking to The New York Times before the Super Bowl in 2014, Champ Bailey noted that his life in football nicely coincided with the shrinking of pads: “It started out, in Little League and stuff, the bigger the better. High school, the bigger the better. Now it’s the smaller the better. You want to be as light as possible.”
The Times reported in that story pads were two to four pounds lighter than they’d been decades earlier. The era of the giant-shouldered football player is over. Do not even ask about neckrolls.
But that is why we remember the guys and their giant shoulder pads. The giant shoulder pads of yore must not be consigned to the dustbin of history. And who knows: Giant shoulder pads re-appeared on runways in Europe in 2017. One day they may make it back to the NFL.