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Why do NFL players wear a towel when they play?
Towels are practical accessories to accompany National Football League and college football players’ uniforms despite their lack of glamour.
The towels hanging from NFL players, usually hovering by their hip and sometimes near the crotch area, don’t always enhance the look of their team uniforms. It is easy to deduce that they are there for a practical purpose, not an aesthetic one, although some teams have customized their appearance to look more stylish.
As one can probably guess, the primary intention of these towels is to wipe off sweat. Sometimes, inclement weather with rain, sleet, or snow can also make the player’s hands wet.
Football players use towels to keep their hands and/or forearms dry when they play. Wet or moist hands can affect one’s grip on the ball and even spell the difference between winning or losing a match.
Dry hands for the quarterback
Keeping a good grip on the ball is particularly important for a quarterback, so he is the most likely to wear a towel on the field. He usually wears it in front to dry his hand before taking a snap. The quarterback handles the ball a lot, taking it from the center, sending it off to a running back or tossing it to a wide receiver. He must keep both his hands and the ball clean.
The center, meanwhile, touches the ball first, so having dry hands is crucial. Aside from having to deal with sweat that he could drip on the football right before a snap, the ball may get muddy from the ground.
Dry arms are needed too
The running back must carry the ball firmly, and it’s challenging to do that with sweaty arms and hands. When handling the football, security is paramount.
Thus, he must ensure that his forearms and biceps are dry aside from his hands. This may seem minor, but small plays can spell big disasters.
Finally, the wide receiver must ensure the ball doesn’t slither from his possession when he catches it. Like the running back, he must keep most of his arm dry to avoid fumbling or dropping the football.
The towels have been used for another reason beyond keeping the person and ball clean and dry. Players have worn pink versions to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month.