All NFL players will be required to wear thigh and knee pads beginning with the 2013 season, and a failure to do so will result in their removal from games. Violators won't be ejected, they'll just have to sit on the sidelines until they add the padding to their uniforms. Failure to comply with this new requirement also could result in a fine.
The NFL required players to wear the pads from 1979 to 1994, at which point they became optional. Since then, more and more players have decided to go without the pads, which could be bulky and uncomfortable. Some, like Tampa Bay's Tiquan Underwood, haven't worn knee or thigh pads in years.
Underwood isn't overly concerned about the new requirement, though (via USA Today):
"As a player, you always want to be comfortable," Underwood said. "As long as you can find a pair that's comfortable, (and) it doesn't affect your play, (then) we're all for it."
Comfort figures to be less of an issue than it was 20 years ago -- players will have access to lighter, stronger pads -- but the mandate nonetheless will be a bit of an adjustment for a considerable portion of the league's players.