St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has made very nice career for himself by being a step ahead. He has to be in order to rack up seven straight 1,000-yard seasons on the ground, in an era where running backs don't get the kind of attention they used to in the NFL. On Tuesday, NFL owners passed a rule change that will require players to wear knee and thigh pads. Jackson is a step ahead on that too.
The new rule was met with much derision from players. Those pads don't prevent concussions or ACL tears or things like that. Players argue that the extra foam only slows them down in a game where a tenth of a second matters.
Nevertheless, Jackson has been wearing his pads for a long time. He told USA Today that he already wears a pair of pants, pairs of pants, from Nike with the pads built into them.
"I have to protect myself," Jackson said in the article.
That said, Jackson noted the limitations of the padding.
"It's a collision sport," Jackson says. "If your ACL is going to go out, it's going to go out. Forcing people to wear pads, I don't know if it solves the issue."
The NFL thinks differently, citing concerns over player safety and the league's role as an industry leader in that regard.
The rule still has to be approved by the NFLPA because it changes a working condition covered by the CBA. It blessed, it will go into effect for the 2013 season.