NFL players often find the league’s penchant for making rules that restrict their self-expression to be the bane of their existence. Now the NFL is restricting its players ability to channel “Bane” in their gear.
According to nfl.com reporter Ian Rapoport, the league is banning “non-standard and overbuilt facemasks.” Rapoport said on Twitter that Troy Vincent, the NFL executive vice president of football operations, “explained to teams non-standard facemasks more regularly fail safety tests, aren’t as safe.”
So what constitutes a “non-standard” face mask? Rapoport explained it thusly:
Now illegal facemasks characterized by “more bars, smaller spaces between the bars, and a generally larger coverage area,” Vincent wrote
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 30, 2014
The rule will only affect a few current NFL players (Rapoport estimated four), of whom the Raiders’ Justin Tuck is probably the most associated with the “overbuilt” look. Tuck has said that he went to that style while playing for the Giants because he thought offensive linemen were pulling on his old face mask in order to exacerbate a neck injury he had.
Among the concerns regarding the face masks is that they may encourage tacklers to lead with their helmets. Ex-fullback Cory Schlesinger recently told Fox News that he was suffering from some memory loss, and he said he broke over 200 face masks while clearing the way for running backs.
“You’re supposed to strike with your fist first, but you know that’s not happening,” Schlesinger said. “I have a fairly large head and I’m going to use that as a weapon to get my running back through the hole.”
Other players who have used these face masks include Chris Canty, a former teammate of Tuck’s, and Brandon Spikes, formerly of the Patriots and now with the Bills.