CFL Announces Plan to Eliminate Full Pads at Practice to Limit Contact

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2017

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 11: A CFL logo on an official Canadian CFL league ball during warm-ups before the Saskatchewan Roughriders CFL game against the Toronto Argonauts on July 11, 2013 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Canadian Football League will no longer feature full pads during regular-season practices.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and the CFL Players Association made the announcement Wednesday, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. Seifert noted the new policy will go into effect immediately in an effort to limit non-game contact after preseason training camp.     

Helmets are the only padded equipment players can wear under the new policy.

According to Dave Naylor of TSN, CFL teams were previously allowed 17 days of full-contact practice during the season in addition to full-contact practices at training camp. Naylor also noted this wasn't the only change because the league will extend its regular season from 20 to 21 weeks and give teams—which will still play 18 games a season—three byes instead of two.

Seifert compared the new policy to the collective bargaining agreement in the NFL. It allows 14 padded practices during the regular season, with 11 coming in the first 11 weeks.

NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah called the CFL's move an "interesting development" in a tweet Wednesday.

Ambrosie specifically highlighted the decreased physical pounding for offensive and defensive linemen with the new change.

"Those guys are literally hitting each other on every play," he said, per Seifert. "In one game's worth of hitting, you're probably getting hit or being hit more times than most people would be in a lifetime. It [sounds] crazy, but it's true. It does take a toll on the body."

Ambrosie said the change wasn't just to address concussions, although Seifert pointed out "it did come two months after a Boston-based study found chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in nearly all of the 202 brains sampled from former football players."