The Body
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-shoulder" 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.
To help protect the ribs, there is hard plastic in the front and back, as well as a flak-jacket extension used by players with a lot of exposure. For players like linemen, special attachments make the pads harder to use as handholds.

The flap that covers the pad edges prevents opposing linemen from getting ahold of the pads.

The interior of a set of shoulder pads is padded with foam. Miles can use Velcro to attach additional pads to build up protection or to take pressure off an injury by bridging over it.

Although the outside of the pads is hard, the side closest to the player's skin is a softer cloth padding.

The shoulder pads are covered by a jersey. Without the pads, the jersey is usually pretty big on players. But the jersey is cut so that when the player suits up with pads, it is tight-fitting. We'll talk more about the jersey in the next section.

Below the waist, the players choose pads depending on their position and injuries. A fully suited player would have several types of pads, including hip pads, knee pads and thigh pads. There are several styles of knee and thigh pads for players to choose from.

Hip pads protect players' hip and pelvic bones in hard falls.

Thigh and knee pads are available in several styles and sizes.

These pads are inserted into pockets on the inside of the player's pants prior to suiting up.