Starting in 2014, the NFL will ban non-traditional facemasks, meaning you can kiss the Bane-like facemasks goodbye. A memo issued by the league stated that non-standardized facemasks presented safety risks that traditional ones did not, and that these helmets did not measure up to NFL safety standards.
Going forward, all helmets and safety masks worn by players must pass certification tests done by NOSAE, which is the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.
That means none of these:
The memo included research conducted by Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina and Dr. Erik Swartz of the University of New Hampshire.
“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,” Dr. Swartz said in a statement issued by the league.
Primary concerns outlined in the research include:
- The added weight and construction impacts the structural integrity of the helmet.
- The additional weight shifting the head forward, causing fatigue of the neck muscles and creating poor posture, posing more risks when tackling.
- The smaller spaces in between the bars of the helmet increase risks of other players’ fingers getting trapped, which could cause serious hand injury to the opponent as well as neck injury to the player.
- The additional material and design of the helmet may create a false sense of security for the wearer.
The following facemasks are deemed acceptable:
The research presented was consistent with the recommendations of the NFL Competition Committee, Owners’ Health & Safety Committee, the Player Safety Advisory Panel and the HNS Subcommittee on Safety Equipment and Playing Rules.
Four players wore the masks last year due to medical exemptions and may apply for consideration again this year.
The league stated that no new medical exemptions will be granted unless a player can demonstrate significant medical need for a non-standard mask and alternatives aren’t feasible.