US 3740763 A
A football shoulder pad and upper torso protective covering in which the assembly is separated into flexibly connected right and left side portions, instead of the usual inflexible unitary assembly, thereby affording greater protection in vunerable areas of the upper torso and shoulders combined with greater flexibility to more nearly conform with the natural movements of the anatomy.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Mitchell June 26, 1973 FOOTBALL SHOULDER PAD  Inventor: Hal D. Mitchell, Aptos, Calif.  Assignee: A-t-O Inc., Willoughby, Ohio  Filed: Dec. 22, 1971  App]. No.: 210,811
 US. Cl. 2/2  Int. Cl A41d 13/00  Field of Search 2/2, 25
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,071,639 1/1962 Foley 2/2 2,071,827 Glahe 2/2 4/1940 Smith 2/2 5/1970 Morgan 2/2 Primary Examiner-Alfred R. Guest AttorneyFrederic M. Woodruff et a1.
[ 5 7] ABSTRACT A football shoulder pad and upper torso protective covering in which the assembly is separated into flexibly connected right and left side portions, instead of the usual inflexible unitary assembly, thereby affording greater protection in vunerable areas of the upper torso and shoulders combined with greater flexibility to more nearly conform with the natural movements of the anatomy.
8 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures 1 FOOTBALL SHOULDER PAD BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to football shoulder pads and is particularly directed to athletic protective equipment worn by football players.
The game of football requires well padded clothing and particularly an assortment of protective devices to guard against injury because of the violent bodily contact that is involved. One of the customary protective devices is a specialized piece of equipment in the form of shoulder pads which are traditionally worn over the shoulders and under an outer jersey of the usual uniform.
The shoulder pad protective equipment heretofore available imposes serious difficulties on the wearer because of the traditional concept that the various parts of the shoulder pads must function as a single unit. Therefore, the main portion of the shoulder pad for the right and left shoulders are traditionally laced, pinned, or stitched together at the front as well as in the rear. Consequently, the'traditional shoulder pad does not satisfy the natural flexibility of the anatomy and prevents freedom of movement. This is particularly true with the restriction imposed on the arms which cannot normally be raised much above a position approximately horizontal to the ground, for any arm movement to a higher angular position causes the traditional shoulder pad to cut into the wearers neck which automatically inhibits raising the arms beyond an elevation which experience has shown to cause contact with the neck. It is extremely important in the game of football that each player should have the freedom and ability to move the arms in an upward direction without losing the protection which is otherwise afforded by shoulder pads, and the various existing shoulder pads do not accomplish this desired feature. Furthermore, the traditional shoulder pads with their one piece construction can result in serious injury, because in certain positions of the body and while the traditional shoulder pads are out of normal position, the shoulder joint is vunerable to dislocation and it is thought that the traditional pad, because of its improper action, as a one piece device, actually contributes to shoulder injuries.
The principal objects of the present invention are to eliminate the specific difficulties in mobility and protection now present with traditional shoulder pad constructions, to provide an improved shoulder pad which con-sists in right and left shoulder portions which are sub-stantially free to go with the natural movements of the anatomy, and to provide an improved shoulder pad of great flexibility and in which the right and left shoulder protecting portions are rendered independently flexible by a unique harness and suspension arrangement, therefore permitting the arms to be moved freely above the horizontal and to rotate upwardly without inflicting restricting movement or binding action at any place on the body of the wearer.
A presently preferred embodiment of the invention involves providing right and left shoulder pad sections and an interconnecting harness and suspension system which uses the shoulder pad on one side as a base to control the movement of the opposite shoulder pad, even though both sections may be in motion. Additionally, the preferred embodiment involves the application of a harness that holds the shoulder pads in place on the body but permits the opposing medial borders to rotate or move away from each other in the front and in the rear areas of the body, thereby achieving freedom of arm movement while maintaining the necessary protective position of the shoulder pad sections.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A preferred embodiment of the present invention has been illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a front view of the presently improved football shoulder pad when worn in the normal at rest position;
FIG. 2 is a rear view of the improved shoulder pad shown in FIG. 1 and in its normal at rest position;
FIG. 3 is a front view of the improved shoulder pad showing the action of the various components thereof with both arms raised above the head as in a reach position;
FIG. 4 is a view from the rear of the shoulder pad shown in FIG. 3 when the arms are in the raised reach position; and
FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 3 but showing the shoulder pad used with one arm in the raised reach position and the opposite arm in the normal rest position.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In FIGS. 1 and a the improved shoulder pad assembly includes a right body member 10 which is formed of a suitable stiff material and extends from the front chest portion over the right shoulder and down into the back area. The body portion 10 is provided with a cantilever shoulder flap 11 which is suitably connected to the body 10 at the front and rear and by a flexible tab 12 at the top of the shoulder. The cantilever flap 11 partially covers a shoulder cap 13 which affords protection for the outer edges of the shoulder arch of the body 10. In a similar way the shoulder pad includes a left body member 14 which is the mirror image of the right shoulder body 10, and this body portion is provided with a cantilever shoulder flap 15 connected at the front and rear to the body 14 and at the top of the shoulder line by a flexible tab 16. Under the arch 15 there is a shoulder cap 17 suitably connected to the body 14 (not shown). It can thus be seen that the basic components of the right and left shoulder pad assemblies are composed of parts formed from traditional materials and assemblied in generally juxtaposition, as is well illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2.
It is observed in FIGS. 1 and 2 that the right and left body portions 10 and 14 respectively have adjacent vertical margins 10a and 14a which are not interconnected in the usual manner by lacing or other means. Similarly, in FIG. 2, it is observed that the adjacent vertical margins 10b and 14b are not in any way interconnected.
In place of the usual interconnecting lacing for the body portions 10 and 14 there is provided a harness arrangement consisting of essentially two parts which are hereinafter being referred to as the suspender straps and the tie-down straps. The suspender straps include two bi-lateral strap members 18 and 19, suitably made of a nylon webbing and connected by anchors 18a and 19a in the front portions vof the bodies 10 and 14 and at 18b and 19a at the rear of these bodies. In addition, the suspender strap 18 crosses over the chest of the wearer and is run through a loop 20 at the lower portion of the left side of body 14, with the strap continuing on under the left arm and upwardly througha second loop 21 at the rear of the body 14 before crossing the back of the body 14 and upwardly to the body anchor means 18b on the rear of the body 10. In a similar way suspender strap 19 extends downwardly across the chest area toward the lower side of body where it is run through loop 22 and continues on under the right arm and upwardly through loop 23 at the back of the body 10 and across the back to the anchor means 19b in body 14. It can be seen in FIG. 1 that the suspender strap 18 is provided with a suitable buckle assembly 24 and similarly the strap 19 is provided with a buckle assembly 25.
The shoulder pad assembly may be removed by unbuckling the buckles 24 and 25, respectively, thereby freeing the bodies 10 and 14 for separation, without at the same time permitting the right and left sections to become completely detached from each other because the suspender straps 18 and 19 crossing at the backof body 10 and 14 continue to retain these components connected. It is noted in FIGS. 1 and 2 that the strap 18 where it passes under the left arm is provided with an elastic or stretch insert 26, and the suspender strap 19 is similarly provided with an elastic or stretch section 27. The stretch inserts 26 and 27 accommodates a range of sizes of body dimensions and also accommodates the shoulder pads to changes in body dimensions that occurs during activities, such as the rapid in and out movement of the chest due' to the exertion of breathing.
Still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2 it can be seen the tiedown straps 28 and 29 (FIG. 2) have their respective ends connected to the body 14 and 10. The tie-down straps 28 and 29 cross at the back in the areas of the elastic or stretch inserts 28a and 29a, and then continue around the waist of the wearer to be joined by a suitable buckle 30 at the front where it can be easily reached.
It is seen in the various views that the suspender straps 18 and 19 begin at their respective attachments 18a and 19a on the front portions of the neck border of the bodies 10 and 14 and pass across the front face or chest protective areas of the opposite bodies 10 and 14 and through loops and 22 respectively near the lateral inferior angles of the bodies, then continue under the opposite arms and through positioning loops 21 and 23 on the rear faces of the bodies 14 and 10 respectively, then on to points of attachment 18b and 19b adjacent the rear aspects of the neck borders of the opposite bodies. The attachments 18a and 18b for strap 18 and 19a and 19b for strap 19, respectively, on the front and rear portions of body 10 and 14 locate the straps along the neck borders no nearer the medial border than the lateral line of the neck. The correct positioning of these several attachments 18a and 18b, and 19a and 19b is important to the proper flexibility and conformation of the body 10 and 14 with the natural movement of the anatomy. Furthermore, it is important that the two suspender straps 18 and 19 shouldnot have any interconnection at their point of closing in the front as well as in the rear.
Turning now to FIGS. 3 and 4 a player is shown with the presently improved shoulder pad in its action position, with both arms raised above the players head in the reach position. In FIG. 3 the bodies 10 and 14 are seen to be free to separate so that the margins 10a and 14a, formerly in closed position as shown in FIG. 1, are now widely separated to conform to the movement of the anatomy when the arms are raised. Concurrently with the upward rotation and spreading apart of the bodies 10 and 14 it can be seen that the suspender straps 18 and 19 move to more pronounced angular positions relative to the frontal tie-downs 18a and 19a respectively, whereas in FIG. 1 the suspender straps are shown in a normal nearly linear pull position with respect to the tie-downs 18a and 19a. The view in FIG. 4 shows the back of bodies 10 and 14 located with the margins 10b and 14b widely spaced as compared to the rest position shown in FIG. 2. Also, the suspender straps 18 and 19 are now in a more pronounced angular position relative to the tie-down elements 18b and 19b.
From the views of FIGS. 3 and 4 it is observed that the suspender straps are attached and extend along the neck borders of the bodies 10 and 14 so as to be outside the lateral line of the neck of the wearer of the shoulder pads. Furthermore, the attachments or tie-downs 18a and 18b, and 19a and 19b for suspender straps l8 and 19, respectively, are so located as to allow movement between the crossed positions of the straps, thereby giving the bodieslO and 14 unrestricted lateral separating movement so that the protective members 11 and 13 for the right shoulder, and members 15 and 17 for the left shoulder, can easily assume conforming positions with the anatomy of the arms and shoulders of the human body. What is extremely important here is that the edges of the neck regions of the bodies 10 and 14 do not move inwardly far enough to exert a pinching force on the wearers neck.
The tie-down straps 28 and 29 constitute a separate part of the shoulder pad harness since they are made to stretch and work with the body 10 and 14, while maintaining the necessary restoring force on the bodies 10 and 14 to bring the shoulder pad assembly back into its normal position when the arms are lowered toward or are in the at rest positions of FIGS. 1 and 2.
Turning now to FIG. 5 it can be observed that when the right arm is in the raised reach position the body 10 and its cooperating parts 11 and 13 are able to conform to the natural movement of the anatomy in the right shoulder area, using as a base the left body 14. One of the important operating functions of the suspender straps 18 and 19 is quite evident in FIG. 5, for here the body 10 is permitted to move independently of the body 14. Notwithstanding the independence of movement of the body 10 relative to body 14, it can be appreciated that the suspender straps continuously maintain both of the bodies 10 and 14 in protective position on the portions of the wearer's anatomy that they are primarily designed to protect.
In view of the foregoing description of a presently preferred embodiment of the improved football shoulder pad protective device, it should now be appreciated that the essential components include right and left body portions worn over the respective shoulders and extending down in protective covering relation over the chest and back areas between the right and left arms, and a system of strap means interconnecting the body portions and having a working relation by crossing each other in the chest and back areas, whereby the respective body portions are relatively free and capable of moving independently of each other so as to follow or conform to the natural anatomical configurations into which the wearers body is free to move. It is also believed to be clear from the foregoing description that the invention resides in the shoulder pad assembly, as well as in the improvement of a system of strap means interconnecting the respective body portions of the shoulder pad, thereby establishing a cooperative relationship without at the same time restricting independent relative movement.
What is claimed is:
1. In a shoulder protective device for athletic use having right and left side body portions arched over the respective shoulders and extending down over the chest and scapula areas between the right and left arms, the improvement of a system of strap means interconnecting said body portions in crossed relationship and including a right shoulder strap anchored to the right body portion and extending across the left body portion chest and scapula areas, and a left shoulder strap anchored to the left body portion and extending across the right body portion, whereby the respective body portions are relative free to move independently of each other to follow substantially the anatomical configuration.
2. The improvement of claim 1 wherein said strap means includes stretchable portions to allow said strap means to conform individually to changes in the anatomical configuration.
3. The improvement of claim 1 wherein said system of strap means includes suspender straps operably controlling said body portion response to anatomical configuration, and tie-down strap means connected to said body portions and having a body encirclement below said body portions.
4. The improvement of claim 3 and including loop means movably connecting said suspender strap means to the chest and scapula areas of said body portions.
5. The improvement of claim 4 and including loop means connecting said suspender strap means to said chest and scapula areas of said body portions for longitudinal motion therethrough.
6. An athletic shoulder protection assembly consisting of right and left protective bodies arched over the respective shoulders and extending down over the chest and scapula areas of the wearer, said protective bodies having adjacent margins in the chest and backbone areas of the wearer and neck margins following the shoulder arches, strap means fixed to each protective body adjacent the chest and scapula areas thereof and extending across the latter areas of the adjacent body and under the arms at the distant sides, guide means on said protective bodies to receive the strap means fixed to the adjacent body, said strap means fixed on one body portion acting on the other body portions for a base anchorage.
7. The assembly of claim 6 in which each of said right and left protective bodies have margins in normally adjacent relation with said assembly in the rest position, and said strap means have cross-overs in the vicinity of said adjacent margins, and said strap means extends from one protective body in a loop about the adjacent protective body, said guide means retaining said loops in position on the respective bodies.
8. The assembly of claim 7 in which the strap means includes stretch portions to allow said protective bodies to conform individually to changes in the anatomical configuration.