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NFL says customized face masks are not allowed

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Don't get used to seeing this type of facemask. (AZCardinals.com)
Don't get used to seeing this type of face mask. ( AZCardinals.com)

If you think the facemask that the Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett is wearing in the photo above is pretty sweet, you'll be disappointed in this next bit of news.

Those types of face-covering facemasks have been made illegal by the NFL, because it's considered “a prohibited non-standard customized face mask."

That's the word from NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who sent an email to NFL.com on Friday and wrote, “A player would need a medical reason to wear this type of face mask.”

That's fine news for players like Ravens defensive end Chris Canty and Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, both of whom applied for medical clearance and got permission from the league to wear those helmets of extra protection. Others like Dockett and Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware won't be allowed to wear them.

“I invented it,” Canty told the Baltimore Sun. “We developed something that can keep hands out of my face, so it wouldn't detach my retina again. … I can't help it that other guys think it's cool and they want to wear it, too. It's a necessity for me.”

But the lack of inclusion makes Colts defensive end Robert Mathis a little bit sad.

It sounded like Dockett wanted to wear his facemask so he could feel more invincible while “inflict[ing] physical, bodily harm to another individual in an environment which it is morally acceptable.”

But for Tuck, who has battled neck injuries and doesn't want opponents trying to grab it from inside his facemask, sees it as a necessity.

"Everybody is like, 'Can I get that facemask?' No, it's exclusive to me, no one else can have it," Tuck said last year. "But it's a copycat league in everything people do so I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few of those floating around before we play."

With the latest league ruling, Tuck doesn't have to worry about copycats anymore.

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