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Ravens' Chris Canty: I can't play without custom mask

The NFL sent a memo Monday to league members and players stating that the use of non-standard facemasks would be banned beginning this season.

For many players this isn't a real issue. But for Baltimore Ravens veteran defensive end Chris Canty it's a big problem.

"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."

Canty was hit in the eye with a beer bottle while trying to leave a bar in 2005 after a fight broke out. He suffered a detached retina that required emergency surgery, which saved his sight. However, the incident necessitates Canty wears a special facemask with several extra horizontal and vertical bars along with a dark visor attached to protect his eye.

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"This is an important player-safety matter," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Sun in an email. "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."

Canty, a 10-year vet, was unaware of the memo when contacted by Wilson, but he claims to have invented the non-normal facemask -- out of necessity, not style.

"I invented it," Canty said. "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."

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