An article of protective athletic equipment to be worn by a person includes padding in the form of a layer of closed cell, elastomeric foam having a regularly bi-directionally convoluted surface for confronting the person. An exemplary shoulder pad using such padding has a chest protector including a substantially rigid, shape-retaining layer forming a back portion, and arch portion and a front portion including outside edges proximately overlying a vertical mid-line of each pectoralis major of the person so that forward motion of the arm is unrestricted by the chest protector. The outside edge of the chest protector extends downwardly and outwardly below the pectoralis major to provide protection for the ribs. Flexible pads are coupled to the shape-retaining portion to extend outwardly over the outer portion of the pectoralis major, the flexible pad being pivotable about the outside edge of the chest protector during movement of the shoulder. A shoulder joint cap having a padded inner portion and a substantially rigid outer portion is flexibly connected to an arch portion of the chest protector. A substantially rigid flap or epaulet is flexibly connected to the arch portion of the chest protector to overlie the chest protector upper portion and shoulder joint cap. The epaulet is adapted to contact the chest protector front portion. A neck pad is fixed to an inner margin of the arch portion of the chest protector.