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For N.F.L. Kickers, Showing Too Much Leg Could Hurt Their Pockets

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The N.F.L.’s uniform policy has long been a source of a number of the league’s most inane “controversies.” The immense list of restrictions for what players can wear has resulted in fines over all the pieces from cleat color (Saints running back Alvin Kamara was fined $5,000 for wearing red and green shoes in a Christmas Day game) to untucked jerseys (Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb drew a $15,450 nice for his second such offense last season).

The league employs 64 “uniform inspectors” who rigorously examine players on game days to be sure that they’re following the principles. Each week the league levies fines for policy violations, and just two weeks into the regular season, players are fed up with the enforcement of 1 a part of the rule: pant length.

Showing an excessive amount of skin is prohibited by Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3, Item 4, which states that “Pants should be worn over the whole knee area; pants shortened or rolled up to fulfill the stockings above the knee are prohibited.” The one exception is that if a player wears a tool — say, a knee brace — that replaces the removed material. Players who violate uniform rules are fined $5,305 on the primary offense and $15,914 on the second.

The difficulty has been especially contentious for kickers and punters, who looked as if it would band together for a temporary period on social media to specific their dismay at having been fined for the transgression. The loudest of them was Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay, who posted pictures on Twitter of him wearing comically baggy uniform pants that covered well below his knees. His header photo on the app showed him attempting a kick while wearing pants that stopped above his knees.

“Thanks guys now I feel protected and may do my job super well,” Gay wrote in his tweet, “sorry my third pic I’m showing leg skin #fined.”

Giants kicker Graham Gano joined in the general public criticism of the policy, posting an Instagram message that read, “Thanks @NFL for fining kickers and punters everywhere in the league $5k+ for not wearing our pants below our knees. What an absolute joke Roger Goodell … ”

This isn’t the primary time the N.F.L. has harped on players’ knees. The receiver Odell Beckham Jr. posted to Instagram the $14,037 nice he received for a similar pants issue in 2019, calling the penalty “ridiculous” and adding: “14k for some pants which might be NOT gonna protect me from anything …”

It’s unclear why the league mandates that players cover their knees during games. The N.F.L. declined to comment for this text and in its response pointed to official uniform policies.

Bradley Pinion, a punter for the Atlanta Falcons, was quick to indicate that the rule regarding showing knees has been inconsistently enforced. He posted a game-day picture to Instagram that showed him wearing pants that finished well above his knee while punting for the San Francisco 49ers eight years ago.

Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo reposted the image, adding, “Cover y’all knees the second nice is crazy,” referring to the nearly $16,000 penalty a second infraction could incur.

He was fined after the Falcons’ loss to the Saints in Week 1, when he successfully connected on 4 of his five field goal attempts, including two of a minimum of 50 yards. In the sport, he wore his white uniform pants well above his knees.

When reached for comment on social media, Koo said that kickers and punters are inclined to wear shorter pants, because they feel longer pants hinder their performance. “I don’t like anything over my knees,” Koo wrote. “It appears like it restricts my leg movement.”

While kickers and punters appeared to be the loudest on social media, they weren’t the one players who’ve been penalized. Houston Texans defensive end Jerry Hughes posted his nice letter to Twitter writing, “Out here fighting for a W!!! But y’all want me to deal with how my pants are riding up.” And 49ers safety George Odum was fined through the preseason for a similar reason.

But players at other positions don’t appear to be as directly impaired of their primary task as kickers. To wit, in Week 2 Koo trotted onto the sector for his first attempt, a 44-yarder that might have given the Falcons an early lead over the Rams. Along with his black pants fully covering his knees, Koo missed wide left.

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