ATLANTA -- Players use them on the high-school level. They use them in college, too. And now, in an effort to continue improving the safety of the game, the NFL will also begin requiring all players to wear knee and hip pads starting in 2013.
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A successful vote by owners Tuesday at the league meeting in Atlanta will allow for the NFL to move forward with plans to impose the new rule, competition committee chairman Rich McKay said.
The NFL Players Association will likely now enter into the discussions -- perhaps with some potential questions about the new rule -- but the league will move forward with the expectation that it will eventually be implemented.
Shortly after the owners approved the changes, the NFLPA released a statement in which it said that "any change in working conditions is a collectively bargained issue."
"While the NFL is focused on one element of health and safety today, the NFLPA believes that health and safety requires a comprehensive approach and commitment," the statement reads. "We are engaged in and monitor many different issues, such as players' access to medical records, prescription usage and the situation with professional football's first responders, NFL referees. We always look forward to meeting with the NFL to discuss any and all matters related to player health and safety."
A slightly different procedure will take place as it pertains to a pair of other rules proposals discussed Tuesday.
The owners are also on board with a two-week extension to the trade deadline that will allow teams to pull the trigger on trades until after Week 8 of the regular season. McKay anticipates that this will lead to more action in the trade market without jeopardizing the integrity of the league's competitive balance late in the season.
Additionally, the owners agreed to allow one player from each team's injured-reserve list to be added back to the active roster at a certain point in the regular season. However, both that and the proposed trade-deadline change will require further action before implementation.
The owners essentially empowered the league's management counsel to discuss both of those rules proposals with the NFLPA, a necessary procedure toward making each a part of the collective bargaining agreement.
Though this is a matter of procedure, it is certainly possible either rule could face any number of hiccups during those discussions.
The league originally planned to also discuss a rule that would allow for a roster spot to be opened if a player were to miss action due to a concussion -- but that discussion has been tabled at this point.