The NFL made thigh and knee pads mandatory equipment for the 2013 season, and the players’ union was not pleased with the change.
Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, said Tuesday at an owners meeting that because this is a playing rule, the league can apply it unilaterally.
“We have a vote of the membership and can implement,” McKay said. “Some of us felt we were remiss that we took it out of the rule book — high school and college makes it mandatory — and in our mind, that is how it should be and will be in 2013.
“We have some work to do with the union.”
McKay said the league will meet with NFL Players Association representatives on the issue, something they have discussed in the past. But the NFLPA argued that the move should be negotiated.
“Any change in working conditions is a collectively bargained issue,” the union said in a statement.
The pads rule would not go into effect on the field until next year so equipment manufacturers can work on safety and comfort.
Commissioner Roger Goodell couldn’t see any negatives to adding the thigh and knee pads.
“We have raised the issue of mandatory pads for at least three years now,” he said. “I believe the technology has improved, the pads are far better than a decade ago, they allow better performance and are more protective. Every other level of football uses the pads.”
Former All-Pro safety Troy Vincent, now an NFL vice president, explained why there could be pushback from the players.
“It’s psychological. Less pads you are faster, skinnier, that’s just the way I was introduced to the (pro) game,” he said. “It’s a culture shift. They will adjust.”
The owners also voted to move the trading deadline from after Week 6 to after Week 8, and to allow one player who is placed on injured reserve to return to practice after the sixth week of the schedule and to the lineup after the eighth week. Previously, a player who was placed on IR could not play for that team during the same season.
WINSLOW TRADE ‘NOT A MESSAGE’
New Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano insists he wasn’t sending a message by trading tight end Kellen Winslow to the Seattle Seahawks, he was just improving the Buccaneers.
Winslow had not participated in a voluntary workout with the Buccaneers.
“There is really not a message. It’s not one of those situations,” Schiano said. “The only message I want to address is we need to be the best football team we can be.”
Arbitrator Stephen Burbank upheld the NFL’s salary cap reductions on the Redskins ($18 million per season) and the Cowboys ($5 million per season) for this season and next. … Browns linebacker Scott Fujita said he did not participate in the Saints’ bounty program. He was suspended for three games by the league for allegedly contributing “a significant amount” of money to a bounty pool while he played for the Saints. … Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, former Seahawks defensive lineman John Randle and 13 other former players sued the NFL and are seeking compensation for head injuries.