NFL

Can NFL players show their legs? What is the NFL dress code?

The NFL uniform policy was created for players safety and professionalism; NFL players must adhere to these rules on a weekly basis to avoid getting fined.

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Can NFL players show their legs? How is the NFL dress code?
Jasen Vinlove USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has many obscure rules that not a lot of people know about, from end zone celebrations and overweight fining, to dress code rules and approved accessories. Since the official dress code is an especially interesting five-page-long policy, we’ve summarized the most interesting facts below, including the length of NFL players’ socks and how some of those rules started out.

NFL players are required to dress in a certain manner that conveys professionalism; the image of the league is reflected on the players’ appearance on the field, which directly affects the NFL reputation and advancement. Appropriately, the league’s uniform and equipment policy was created, with the players safety and professionalism as the main priority.

Some of the guidelines for NFL dress code include team jerseys that must be tucked in, and towels that are only allowed to be placed into the front waist of a players’ pants. Mandatory equipment that is to be worn by all players, with the exception of punters and kickers, include shoulder pads, thigh and knee pads.

Another interesting and new-er policy in the rulebook is the non-standard/ customized face mask. Players must get approval from the physician’s office after being examined in order to wear a non-league-sanctioned mask.

The NFL even has rules regarding the length of players’ socks, and they are not flexible. In other words, if the socks are too low showing some skin, fines have and will be set in motion. With more on that below, let’s dive into how that rule came into the books.

Can NFL players show their legs?

In 1945, Elmer Layden, who was the commissioner of the National Football League from 1941 to 1946, decided among other things that NFL players have “unsightly legs” that should be covered by long stockings. Since then, the rule has been actively adopted in the NFL policy and is still in the books today "stockings must cover the entire area from the shoe to the bottom of the pants, and must meet the pants below the knee." Players’ pants are also not allowed to be cut or altered in any way,” per the NFL rulebook

Even though this policy sounds like it could entail some flexibility with players, there have been athletes who got fined for wearing socks too low during an NFL game.

NFL athletes who got fined for showing some skin

In 2013, San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore attracted a whopping $10,500 fine for wearing pulled-up socks. "When you're playing, you don't think about it," Gore said. "You're trying to win." 

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was also fined $5,000 in a 2020 game against the Tennessee Titans for failing to “cover his lower leg” during the game. 

Even with all the NFL fines we’ve seen over the years, getting fined for showing some leg skin is definitely one of the crazier ones.