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New NFL rules: Leg, thigh pads are mandatory to protect players

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Editor's note: This is a closer look at one of four player health and safety-related rules that are new to this NFL season, which begins Thursday.

NEW RULE: The requirement to wear leg and thigh pads for all players.

What the rule changes: It will require all players to wear pads on the legs and thighs.

Why the change was made: For decades players have been balking at wearing leg pads because they thought the pads were slowing them down.

How it would impact player health and safety: In the era of safety initiatives, the NFL is re-emphasizing the leg padding to cut down on minor and major leg injuries. The NFL will not allow players to enter the field without them, requiring the uniform inspectors at every game to make violators ineligible to enter games until they comply. NFL officials also have said fines could be levied for players who do not comply.

What players are saying about it: "It's amazing the psychological effects the little things have on your confidence. I was convinced they slowed me down. And I'm sure guys today will be sure of the same. It's all mental."

-- Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin to Bloomberg News.

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