Brutal Hits May Force NFL Ump Padding

Officials closest to the action suffer painful collisions with players
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2008 6:50 PM CST
Atlanta Falcons' Jason Snelling (44) runs into umpire Bill Schuster (129) during the NFL pre-season football game against the Buffalo Bills in August 2007.    (AP Photo/David Duprey)
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(Newser) – Imagine side-stepping Mack trucks once a week while reading their license plates and risking brutal, career-ending collisions. Now you know how an NFL umpire feels, the Los Angeles Times reports. On-field injuries may be uncommon, but they do occur, and the NFL is contemplating protective gear. “I know I wouldn’t get 100% buy-in" on umpire padding, the NFL's VP says, "but at some point we just have to look at it."

Sometimes the player needs extra padding, like college QB Stephen Garcia, who gained infamy last month when an umpire felled him with a forearm. But pros often use umps as blocking dummies, making collisions more likely; most have a story to tell about a painful hit. One retired umpire recalls needing six stitches after his head slammed into the dirt. “I got a concussion,” he said, “but never missed a play.”