NFL bans non-standard helmet masks because of safety concerns

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

The NFL has told its 32 clubs it has prohibited non-standard facemasks for the 2014 season because of player-safety concerns, according to a memo obtained by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

The memo, which was distributed by NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, cited a study by University of New Hampshire researchers for the NFL. The study reported the added weight of the more complex facemask compromises the structure of the helmet and can lead neck fatigue. That, in turn, can lead to head-down tackling during contact.

The added weight of the helmet also goes against the helmet standards created by National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. NOCSAE's studies show that the non-standard facemask often fails safety and certification tests.

This falls in line with other NOCSAE decisions, which have voided the helmet's warranty because of third-party add-ons to headgear.

One key downside is many of the non-standard facemasks have more bars and a smaller field of vision than standard facemasks.

Four players wore the now illegal facemasks in 2013, according to Rapoport. The memo added that players with medical approval for facemasks in 2013 must be re-evaluated prior to the 2014 season and future deviations will be strictly monitored.

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