Better follow the NFL dress code

Better follow the NFL dress code
July 11, 2013, 12:00 am
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(Jim Z. Rider-USA TODAY Sports)

Merton Hanks is now the NFL’s vice president of football operations. One of his many responsibilities is to make sure that players adhere to new rules this coming season about wearing thigh and knee pads.

Hanks used to play safety in the league. And back in his playing days, once it was no longer mandatory, sometimes he wouldn’t wear thigh and knee pads. But that was then, and this is now.

If a player is caught in the game without the required pads, not only will he face a fine of at least $5,000, as in any other case of being nonuniform in his uniform, but he will also get yanked from the field until he becomes pad-compliant.

"The more important deterrent, quite frankly, is that player will be removed from the game, and no player wants to miss time on game day," Hanks told USA Today. "The coaches certainly have voiced their opinion — that's not something they're willing to tolerate. Can you imagine having a player that you've designed a play for not in the game because he's chosen not to adhere to the padding options that every other player has to adhere to?"

Plus, the pads have evolved to the extent that they shouldn’t be slowing anyone down. Players will use a "lighter, stronger, more up-to-date pad," Hanks said.

No one is supposed to make it onto the field minus the pads, because each team has an NFL minder assigned to make sure everyone is appropriately dressed.

"If we have a player that … slips through the cracks and he is on the field, at that point, we will notify the sideline team designee,” Hanks said, “[and] we will notify the back judge of the officials group to give this young man an opportunity to make the adjustment. And if he refuses, he will be removed from the game."