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Joe Morris works to enforce safety rules as uniform inspector

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

One of the biggest safety changes this season is the requirement for all NFL players to wear leg and thigh pads.

Who will be in charge of making sure 53 players wear proper equipment on game days? That's the uniform inspector. At New York Giants home games, that job is held by former two-time Pro Bowl running back Joe Morris.

In a look at an NFL uniform inspector, NFL Network's "Around The League" pulled back the curtain on his life at games, following him during last month's Giants-Jets preseason game at MetLife Stadium.

"My job is to make sure guys are in correct uniform for the game," he said. "That means their jerseys, their socks, their towels -- everything has to be uniform."

That includes the leg and thigh pads. Morris checks all players during pregame warmups and again during games. As part of the new rule, he is instructed to tell the referees if a player tries to enter play without proper leg padding.

The punishment? It will be suspension from a game until the player complies. If they try to re-enter the game without those pads, that's a 5-yard penalty.

"A lot of guys don't like it," Morris said. "This is a good rule. It's sensible. It's trying to protect the players and it's something that's going to add to their career, make it a little bit easier to play."

Morris admitted he didn't always wear the proper padding.

"I tried to get away with anything I could," he said. "I took the gussets out of my jersey. I did things to try and give myself a competitive advantage when I was playing."

Like Morris years ago, some current players are fudging the new rule. San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore, for example, played the second preseason game last month with pads well above his knees, a violation of the new rule.

"What I'm trying to do is from the eye, my naked eye, I have to be able to discern that there's a thigh and a knee there and I have to be able to see it clearly," Morris said.

For some players, that could be the difference between getting in the game and sitting on the sideline.

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