A flak jacket in football is a piece of protective equipment typically used to protect the ribs and abdomen area. Flack Jackets are typically worn by wide receivers and quarterbacks looking to avoid or recover from rib injuries.
When wearing football shoulder pads you will find that any part of your upper body below your chest is virtually unprotected.
The biggest risk of injury in this area is the ribs. A hard hit to the ribs can result in a fractured or even broken rib. These injuries can take a long time to recover from. This is an injury most teams work to avoid via the use of flak jackets.
Which positions wear a flak jacket?
The most common position to wear a flak jacket is the quarterback. There are several reasons that the quarterback is the most likely position to wear a flak jacket.
First off they are susceptible to getting hit in the ribs after making a throw. We’ve all seen the plays in which the quarterback is just able to get the ball out of his hands before being hit.
The extended arm that follows through after a throw leaves the rib area completely unprotected. While most players would take this hit in the arm, oftentimes quarterbacks take the hit right to the ribs.
This is where the flak jacket comes in as it has the ability to absorb a large portion of the damage. This keeps the ribs intact even if the quarterback takes a hit while unprotected.
Another reason quarterbacks wear this equipment is because they are often hit unexpectedly. Most players are expecting contact when they have the ball in their hands. This allows them to prepare for the hit and protect themselves.
Quarterback is one of those positions where you may not see the hit coming. Though they aren’t too frequent quarterbacks can tend to take hits that they don’t see coming. This increases the injury risk of this position as they aren’t able to properly prepare their body for impact.
Wide receivers are another position in which flak jackets are sometimes worn. The most common reasons receivers wear flak jackets are for injuries and for hospital passes.
Injuries are a common reason than plenty of positions wear a flak jacket but mainly wide receivers. Cracked or injured ribs are the main reasons why receivers wear these pads.
Oftentimes these sorts of injuries don’t have a great chance of re-injury but rather require great pain tolerence to play. By using a flak jacket receivers are able to lessen the blow and reduce the pain of the injury during the game.
The other reason wide receivers wear flak jackets is due to hospital passes. Hospital passes are those throws that leave the receiver in great danger of taking a big hit.
These passes typically force the receiver to reach out for the ball, all while a defender is waiting to deliver a huge hit. On these plays the receiver cannot protect themselves and often leaves there ribs exposed as they reach out for the ball.
The flak jacket helps to reduce the impact of these bigs hits. As well as reduce the chance of injury on these plays.
Do All NFL Quartebacks Wear One?
Though not every quarterback in the NFL wears a flak jacket you will notice a large portion of them do. Young star quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are both users of this rib protector. Even when playing without upper-body injury.
That being said not all quarterbacks wear this piece of protective equipment. Aaron Rodgers the 37-year-old QB of the Green Bay Packers opts not to wear one when he plays. The reasoning of this likely has something to do with comfort of wearing this jacket while you play.
If you are curious whether or not your favourite quarterback wears a flak jacket all you need is a quick google search. Search pictures of any quarterback just look around their abdomen area for padding.
If there is some padding making their jersey stick out just above their hips then they are wearing a flak jacket. If you find that there is no visual sign of padding then it is likely that the quarterback does not wear a flak jacket.
How Was The Flak Jacket Invented
The flak jacket in football was invented by a man named Byron Donzis. Back in the 1970’s quarterback Dan Pastorini injured a rib after taking a big hit from a defensive lineman.
In the hospital, he was visited by Byron Donzis who brought with him a flak jacket and a baseball bat. Donzis was hit with the bat while wearing the rib protector to prove its effectiveness.
Pasotrini liked what he saw and the flak jacket was officially introduced to football.
The creator Byron Donzis came up with the idea based on the military flak jacket as he wanted to bring the technology soldiers were using into the sports world.
To check out the full story on the invention of the flak jacket in football read more here.
What Injuries Are Flak Jackets Used For
A bruised rib is the most likely reason that a player may choose to wear a flack jacket. In football players often receive bruised ribs when they take a big hit.
This injury is incredibly painful which means players need some sort of protection from the pain. The flack jacket works to soften the blow when these players are hit.
Playing with a flak jacket is not going to make this injury pain free but it will make it a little more bearable.
Broken ribs are another injury that players may attempt to play through with a flak jacket. Though doing this will be incredibly painful and can have larger risks.
With broken ribs a player may risk a punctured lung when playing. This is quite a serious injury which is why most players with broken ribs will elect to sit out and let them heal.