Gridiron Football is one of those sports that require a lot of gear for the purpose of both looks and functionality. Pads, cleats, helmets, visors, and even armbands are currently some of the most popular accessories that are modified by a multitude of 3rd party companies. The NFL has played the largest role in giving these companies a market, and they thrive from sponsoring some of the largest teams in the league. However, what seems like a pretty recent boom due to massive sponsorships, receiver gloves are gaining traction for their purpose in the hands of a receiver. Casual fans like to harp on receivers saying that the new gloves are basically “stickum” and they should catch everything. While it may look like it, there’s more to the technology of the gloves than you may think.
The functionality of gloves is basically as anyone sees it. It helps give all the positions on the field an extra layer of protection and increases any mechanical tools the players possess. What initially only started with improving the ability of wide receivers, every position is slowly being given more consideration through improved glove technology. Also, as the game of football grows more advanced every day, the glove and equipment industry is slowly growing and fitting the wants and needs of each skill position.
Different Types of Gloves
The classical receiver gloves generally feature a sticky grip on the front side of the gloves and an open/closed backside of the glove. Featured brands in the NFL are always trying to find ways to increase the quality of these receiver gloves without compromising the “essence” of the game. To ensure that the gloves don’t become solely the reason receivers catch balls, the NFL relies on the SFIA to check the new gloves that are being released yearly.
The receiver gloves are one of the more popular accessories that receivers use to show off their “swag” as they may call it. Coming in a variety of colors, it has gained quite the following on social media as many pages dedicate themselves to identifying new gloves that players may use. Quite recently, many first-round rookie receivers are getting deals to sign with brands. This allows them to partner with Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and many other brands to showcase a personalized glove on the field.
Lineman gloves were a fairly new addition to the gloves line. Lineman gloves don’t contain much traction on their palms, but rather make up for it by having a lot of protection on the backside of the glove. The lineman glove is primarily designed for the offensive and defensive line where the priority is protecting the hands of the player. Prior to the existence of these gloves, many linemen would tape their fingers to protect them from the rough hand play inside the trenches during every snap.
However, for certain systems, coaches, and even quarterbacks, the lineman may even shift their usage of the gloves. Due to the nature of the position, the center has to properly coordinate with the quarterback whether or not they like their snap with or without gloves. Next time you watch an NFL game, try to take a look at the center’s snapping hand. The small detail of whether or not they have a glove on, or the type of glove they have on, is a decision that has been primarily altered to ensure that the quarterback is happy with the snap.
Specialty gloves include gloves designed for quarterbacks and other hybrid users of different glove types. Usually, quarterbacks prefer being bare-handed to get a better feel of the ball. However, Peyton Manning popularized the specialty glove when he first used it. After a neck surgery rendered him unable to feel the ball with the tip of his fingers, he used a glove during his time in the Broncos to get a better feel. Since Manning popularized this, many other quarterbacks have followed in his footsteps. The quarterback gloves usually don’t have quite a sticky surface but rather a modified surface to ensure that the ball flies out how the quarterback wants it to be.
Another type of specialty gloves that you could see defensive backs mainly using are padded receiver gloves. These types of gloves feature a sticky palm side with a padded back of the hand as well. The defensive backs utilize this glove to deal with some of the most physical aspects of their game. These of which include hand-fighting off the line of scrimmage, pass breakups, and of course, intercepting the ball. These gloves are some of the more compressed and non-heat-friendly gloves, but they are absolutely something that helps make a defensive back’s life easier on the field.
The reasoning behind gloves is pretty simple yet casual fans like to bash on them. What a receiver can do without gloves, they can do it with them as well. Coming from a flag football player such as myself, I can confidently say that gloves do not make you an extraordinary player instantly. They do help a receiver make some tougher catches that they might not usually make, but practicing without gloves is just as important as they are on.
What outsiders read as a “man-hit-man” game is actually a much more technical game than they see. Zooming in to one of the more technical sides of the game is the equipment that every player has with them. Gloves are something I would personally say is severely underrated in terms of the state of the game. They aren’t absolute game-changers, but they are essential for a player to perform at the highest level.