This is a great step in the right direction.
Now if they'd only do something about making the helmets safer.
Because it's a playing rule, the league can apply it unilaterally, forcing every player to comply.
Chairman of the NFL competition committee said:
"We have a vote of the membership and can implement. 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."
The NFL Players Association argues that the change should be able to be negotiated. The union said:
"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. 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."
Former player Troy Vincent, now an NFL vice-president said:
"It's psychological. Less pads you are faster, skinnier, that's just the way I was introduced to the [pro] game. It's a culture shift. They will adjust."
They better adjust, because if they don't wear them, they'll be removed from the field just as if they walked off the bench without a helmet on.
Way to make the game safer, NFL!
[Image via AP Images.]