Ask Sam Farmer: How much does an NFL uniform weigh?

Former Chargers center Nick Hardwick, blocking at right in 2012, said “it normally takes assistance to get in and out of the pads.”

Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: [email protected]

How much does an NFL uniform weigh?

Ralph Miller, Fort Collins, Colo.

Farmer: That’s just the kind of weird question I appreciate. To check this, I consulted Rams equipment manager Brendan Burger, who kindly put a helmet and shoulder pads on a scale. These are rough estimates, and they differ depending on the size and manufacturer. A helmet weighs between 4.25 and 4.75 pounds, shoulder pads are 4 to 5 pounds, a game jersey is about a pound, as are the pants, and players might wear about a pound of additional pads. Not terribly surprising, and maybe even a little lighter than I expected.

To gain a little more insight on uniforms, I turned to former NFL center Nick Hardwick for his thoughts. He noted the difference between a player’s game uniform, and what he might wear for a full-pads practice during the week. With offensive and defensive linemen in particular, they wear their game jerseys so tight they’re practically painted on. That way, no one can use the loose fabric to pull them this way or that.

“The game jersey is so tight that even without shoulder pads, it’s hard to get on,” Hardwick said. “You’re put in there like a hand-stuffed sausage, especially the lumpier guys. The jerseys Velcro to the shoulder pads, so there’s not even an iota where a guy can grab a guy by his jersey and throw him down. That’s the real issue, a guy can manipulate your body the way he wants to instead of just beating you with straight technique.

“It normally takes assistance to get in and out of the pads. Getting in and out is a Houdini act.”

For Hardwick, the most elaborate part of his uniform, if you will, was wrapping his hands. He did that the way a boxer might.

“The whole fear is that you’re just going to shred your fingers and tear ligaments,” he said. “I have so many torn ligaments in my fingers. But the real fear is that you’re going to hurt your thumb. If you tear ligaments in your thumb — if that happens, you can’t play; your season’s going to be done.”

One of his quirkier uniform memories since his days with the San Diego Chargers was that fullback Lorenzo Neal wore two pairs of shoulder pads stacked on top of each other. Now that’s a weighty proposition.

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I was wondering if you could explain the rules for how football players can celebrate plays on the field. I remember times when just spiking the ball resulted in a penalty but after several seasons of protests, the players were finally allowed to spike after a touchdown. Then the scoring player was permitted to dance and spike after scoring. Now it seems that the entire team can do anything from striking a silly pose to a full halftime dance from any big play such as interceptions or touchdowns. I’m just curious when did the league give them carte blanche on celebrations and are there any limitations to it?

Tim Berreth, Santa Clarita

Farmer: The so-called No Fun League loosened its tie in May 2107 after league executives spent the spring talking to players, coaches, officials and fans about ways to relax the rigid celebration policy. That cleared the way for group celebrations, and for using the football as a prop.

But everything in moderation.

“We want to make sure that sportsmanship is a big factor here in the way that we implement this,” commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time. “And of course nobody wanted to see anything that was either violent or sexually offensive to people, and everybody has a little different line there.”

That means Rams receiver Brandin Cooks can’t resume the celebration he had in New England of pantomiming an archer who shoots an arrow into the crowd. That is, after all, a weapon.

“We want to make sure that sportsmanship is a big factor here in the way that we implement this,” commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time. “And of course nobody wanted to see anything that was either violent or sexually offensive to people, and everybody has a little different line there.”

That means Rams receiver Brandin Cooks can’t resume the celebration he had in New England of pantomiming an archer who shoots an arrow into the crowd. That is, after all, a weapon.

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