Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NFL bans non-traditional, 'overbuilt' facemasks


Take it off.

The NFL announced Tuesday it has banned "non-traditional/overbuilt" facemasks from 2014, barring (no pun intended) a medical exemption on a player-by-player basis.

Overbuilt facemasks, according to the league, have more bars, smaller spaces between the bars, and a generally larger coverage area. For example, Buffalo Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes' mask won't fly.

The NFL says non-traditional masks "more frequently fail the certification tests conducted by NOCSAE, the organization that approves equipment. Helmets and facemasks must be certified by NOCSAE to be used in the NFL."

A pair of doctors from the University of North Carolina and University of New Hampshire also conducted research on the matter last year and concluded that overbuilt masks are a general detriment to players' well-being.

“While it may seem logical that adding additional bars to a football facemask would make it more protective, our research suggests that overbuilt facemasks could actually increase the risk of injury to both the player wearing it as well as to other players on the field," UNH's Dr. Erik Swartz said.

Here is a summary of the research, and here is an illustration of permissible and non-permissible masks.

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