It's hard to think about this when players are running the ball through snow and ice, or in an air conditioned super dome, but overheating remains a concern on the gridiron. That's why University of Florida doctors have developed new shoulder pads that could help players beat the heat.
The upper chest and back pads have special grooves that can channel forced cool air in between the player's uniform and body. When players head for the bench, they plug a tube concealed in their pads into a benchside cooling compressor, and that forces air through the pads and across their chest.
Researchers say players testing the pads say they love it. More importantly, the doctors say they need it.
"Players do not typically even get back to normal body temp in the time available to them during halftime, so as you learn more about this, it's less and less of a surprise as to why people begin to run out of gas during the fourth quarter," says Dr. Nik Gravenstein, University of Florida.
The new shoulder pad cooling system may also reduce the amount of sweat athletes lose as their bodies heat up. It's too soon to know how much this improves safety on the gridiron, but the doctors at U of F say it's bound to help.