Brian Orakpo calls ban on grill-style face masks 'disheartening'

By Ryan Wilson |

Brian Orakpo, Justin Tuck and Robert Mathis all fancied the grill-style face masks. (USATSI)
If you're a fan of the futuristic-looking face masks above, we have some bad news for you: The NFL has banned them because they're an oppressive regime that saps originality out of every facet of the game. In corporate speak, that sounds like this: The gear is “a prohibited non-standard customized face mask."

This development makes Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo very sad because, well, he's big on originality.

“I don't know,” Orakpo said via the Washington Post. “It's kind of tough. Obviously it's different. And it does have a sort of look appeal to it. But it's also for protection as well. We're supposed to be all about protection and we get denied for something that benefits us. It's something that's kind of disheartening. ...

“I have to make a switch just for the time being, after all that work,” Orakpo continued. “But, you know, the league is funny about trying to alter stuff. We're still trying to fight it. But they obviously denied everybody. You had a lot of guys -- myself, [Robert] Mathis, Darnell Dockett. There's a lot of guys that got denied. It was pretty disheartening. But I'll be all right.”

One guy who wasn't denied? Chris Canty.

Chris Canty has medical clearance to wear his non-conforming face mask. (USATSI)

Canty, now with the Ravens, has the NFL equivalent of a doctor's note to wear a grill-style face mask.

“I invented it,” Canty told the Baltimore Sun recently. “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.”

Orakpo, meanwhile, will appeal the NFL's ruling.

“Hopefully we can,” he said. “We're obviously in the process right now of trying to get it cleared again. But right now we're denied so we just have to go with what they say.”

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