From the initial leather offerings that provided little protection for players around the turn-of-the-century, to the first plastic helmets introduced in 1939, designers have continued to innovate the football helmet. Today, advanced polymers that lessen collision impact make up the majority of helmets. Essential to the production of these scientifically proven polymers is petroleum.
Nearly all plastics are made from petrochemicals, including the kind that get molded into the hard plastic and foam shells we call shoulder pads. Designed to minimize impact and protect the upper body and sternum of your favorite gridiron players—they also have the ability to dish out crushing, turnover-inducing blows in the process.
Next time a wide receiver and safety collide over the middle on a key third down, know that oil and gas had a big impact, too.
Lightweight and strong, breathable and moisture-resistant, today’s football jersey is in the same category as any other piece of high-performance equipment in the game. Constructed of 100% polyester—a petroleum-based synthetic fabric prized for its durability—their modern mesh knit design has led pro football out of the wool and cotton dark ages and into some bold, exciting new territory.
You could debate all day long over which wide receiver has the best hands in the game. But what’s undeniable is the fact that the gloves players wear today get a key assist from the oil and gas industry. Constructed with a tacky, petroleum-based synthetic rubber that lines the palms and fingertips, these gloves act like hungry fly traps on corner fades, fly routes, and everything in-between.
You can call it a pigskin if you’d like. But the fact is, pro footballs have always been made from good, old-fashioned cowhide. And whether it’s in the transportation of the cow, the machine-based production of the leather, the durable polyester seams that bind the ball together, or the successful arrival of the football to the stadium on game day, petroleum plays a key part every step of the way.
Even the toughest football players can be slowed by a direct hit to the thigh. Doctors call it a quadriceps contusion, but we know it better as the dreaded charley horse. To prevent these types of injuries, players wear a molded thigh pad made of impact absorbing high-density EVA foam. Utilizing a patented method that recycles scrap ethylene vinyl acetate, EVA foam is produced with hydrogenated petroleum resin. The end result is a powerful foam pad and a better-protected player.
Depending on the field conditions, there’s a good chance many players on Super Sunday will be wearing longer spikes for increased traction and cutting ability. As for the rest of the shoe, manufacturers now use a combination of molded plastic and synthetic rubber—both Hall-of-Fame-worthy petroleum byproducts—to create the desired glove-like fit on the foot.