Canty: No custom facemask and shield 'means I can't play'

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

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Earlier this week, the NFL sent out a memo banning non-standard/overbuilt facemasks for the 2014 season.

According to research by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, the non-standard face masks "more frequently fail safety and certification tests and aren't up to NFL safety standards."

Meanwhile, Ravens defensive end Chris Canty, who suffered a detached retina in 2005, wears a non-standard facemask and a dark visor for added protection. Canty was unaware of the memo but he's clear about its implications.

"Not sure what the memo or new policy is, but it's simple for me," Canty told the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "No eye shield and custom mask means I can't play. Eye would be at risk. ...

"I invented it," he continued. "It's that simple. I can't play without it. 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."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says that Canty can apply for a medical exemption to continue wearing the facemask, just like he -- and three other players -- did last year.

"This is an important player-safety matter," McCarthy wrote in the email to Wilson. "There were four players who had medical approval in 2013, including Canty. All four have the opportunity to be re-evaluated prior to this season. Provided the players receive medical exemptions, they will be able wear the non-standard facemasks this season."

This isn't the first time we've heard about the NFL banning non-standard face masks. In fact, the league made a similar proclamation prior to the 2013 season.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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