Knee, thigh pads mandatory in '13

Players who don't wear knee and thigh pads will be removed from games this season as a result of a rule enacted last year, league executive Merton Hanks told multiple media outlets, providing a reminder to the league.

The fact players will not be allowed to take the field and play without wearing the pads is not a new development, but some players apparently thought it would just be a fine for not complying with the rule.

The rule was enacted in 2012 but at the time the league said it wouldn't go into effect on the field until 2013 so equipment manufacturers could work on the safety and comfort of the pads.

Several players blasted the rule change last year, saying they wouldn't wear the pads and would be willing to pay fines, but Hanks said non-compliance isn't an option.

"We anticipate, quite frankly, minimal action in this regard and would love to be 100 percent," Hanks, the NFL's vice president of football operations, told USA Today Sports. "Wearing thigh and knee pads is no different than wearing a helmet and shoulder pads. We won't allow you to play without a helmet on, either."

The league expects that with players wearing pads, serious leg injuries might be limited, as well as the severity of concussions, when a player's knee and thigh come in contact with an opponent's helmet.

The news that wearing the pads would be mandatory this season came as a surprise to Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Tiquan Underwood.

"Wow. Wow," Underwood told USA TODAY Sports. "It seems like it's going to be pretty serious. Guys are just going to have to buy into it."

An unnamed veteran player, however, criticized the rule when asked about it by CBSSports.com.

"This rule is dumb, and now the game is going to slow down dramatically," the player said.

In response to the player's remarks, Hanks told CBSSports.com that both Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard wore knee and thigh pads for the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.

"This didn't stop them from making plays. This didn't stop them from winning the Lombardi Trophy," he told the website.