With the advent of the line of scrimmage and the forward pass, the demand for shin guards in American football slowly waned. Once one of the most important pieces of football equipment, shin guards were relegated to the back pages of most football equipment catalogs by 1920. In his 1919 book "Inside Football," Frank W. Cavanaugh described the use of shin guards in football.
November 27, 2017
Football Shin Guard Evolution
Decline in Use
Shin Guard Advertisement, 1927 A.J. Reach & Co. Fall & Winter Catalog
Rawlings Football Advertisement, 1921
Shin Guard Advertisement, 1919 Rawlings Fall & Winter Catalog
As a rule, shin guards do not appear to be necessary. Yet I would recommend them strongly for occasional men who have supersensitive shins.
By 1920, illustrations in manufacturer's catalogs no longer listed shin guards as standard equipment. Instead, manufacturers focused on shoulder, hip, and thigh padding as as the size of players and the speed of collisions increased.
A.G. Spalding Football/Soccer/Hockey Shin Guards with Ankle Protection, c.1910-1920
By the 1930's, shin guards were primarily sold for the protection of existing injuries. As a result, cane rib shin guards were replaced by rigid, molded fibre guards designed to be worn beneath a players stockings. Fibre, and ultimately plastic guards, continued to be offered by American sporting goods manufacturers until the early 1970's.
Shin Guard Advertisement, 1936 Rawlings Fall & Winter Catalog
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Shin Guard Advertisement, 1971 Rawlings Fall & Winter Catalog