How NFL Equipment Works

The Shoulder Pads

In addition to protecting the head and neck from injury, it's also important to protect the player's body. This is where body pads come in. These pads protect the body during all the pushing, tackles, sacks and pile-ups that occur in any game. The player's jersey and pants cover these pads.

There are four pieces of equipment that protect the player's body:

  • Shoulder pads
  • Hip pads
  • Thigh pads
  • Knee pads

The shoulder pads are probably the most intricate pieces of equipment that the players wear. Shoulder pads consist of a hard plastic shell with foam padding underneath. The pads fit over the shoulders and the chest and rib area, and are secured with various snaps and buckles. Shoulder pads are what give football players their "broad-shouldered" look.

For the Panthers, Miles stocks 12 different styles (essentially one style for every position), with four different sizes per style. A number of custom fitting and padding options are also available, depending on each player's body type and injuries.

Pads come in different styles and are often chosen according to the player's position. The quarterback (and sometimes other players with rib injuries) will often wear pads with a flak jacket extension (bottom photo).

The shoulder pads do two things for the player:

  • They absorb some of the shock of impact through deformation. The pads at the shoulders are strung on tight webbing and deform on impact.
  • They distribute the shock through a larger area so there is less pressure at the point of impact.