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Big Blue View mailbag, part 2: What’s the deal with knee braces and offensive linemen?

A trio of Giants’ weigh in on why most NFL offensive linemen forego the added protection of knee braces

Detroit Lions v New York Giants
Matt Peart (74) against the Detroit Lions.
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

This is a question that came to the Big Blue View Mailbag a few weeks ago. It piqued my curiosity, but I did not really know how to answer it. I wanted the opportunity to speak with some New York Giants offensive linemen about it, and I had that opportunity a couple of days before the Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here is the question, and below are the responses of a trio of Giants linemen.

Alan Meyer asks: When watching the Georgia-Tennessee game last week I noticed that nearly every offensive lineman and several defensive players were wearing knee braces. I don’t remember seeing any Giants wearing one and yet our lowest three draft choices are out with ACL injuries and our top two choices have had strained knee injuries. Why don’t we see the braces used in the NFL?

Matt Peart

[Peart, of course, suffered a torn ACL late in the 2021 season and did not return to action until a few weeks ago].

“I had to wear them in college ... I’m not so sure of the rules but I know for the most part most of the linemen wear knee braces in college and then when you get to the league it’s kind of up to your discretion ...

“I’m personally one of those guys that doesn’t wear them.”

Peart’s torn ACL did not change his viewpoint.

“I can attest that knee braces have saved me from a couple injuries back in college, but I feel confident in how the training staff helped me prepare and the strength staff helped me prepare, even coach Bobby (Johnson) how he helped me prepare. I feel comfortable playing without one even after my injury.”

Peart said “it’s hard to say” if a knee brace would have helped prevent the injury he suffered last season.

Jack Anderson

“Everybody pretty much has to wear them [in college]. The school will mandate that. When I was in college [at Texas Tech] they custom-fit the braces for you, everybody wears them. In the NFL there’s no one telling you to wear them, so pretty much 95 percent of people don’t wear them because it slows you down.

“This is a league where if you play slow you don’t last, so it’s better to be out there playing your best than be out there protected but playing slow.”

Anderson said the knee braces can offer protection “if you get rolled up on real bad.” Like Peart, he added that “in college it definitely saved me once or twice.”

Joshua Ezeudu

Wearing knee braces was mandated at North Carolina, where Ezeudu played.

“In college it depends on your school. Some schools force o-linemen to [wear knee braces] and some schools you have a choice.”

Ezeudu does not wear them with the Giants.

“Unless you really have a knee injury or had one and need it, if you ask anybody if they liked them 99 percent of people would say no. All that weight, they’re metal, they restrict you. You feel the difference.”