NFL aiming to crack down on bigger face masks for 2014 season

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner
NFL aiming to crack down on bigger face masks for 2014 season

The NFL has sent a memo saying it plans to prohibit players' oversized facemasks that are outside the traditional dimensions for the 2014 season. 

Per NFL.com, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent has sent out a memo to teams explaining that facemasks including "more bars, smaller spaces between the bars, and a generally larger coverage area" are no longer allowed.

The league says that research from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipmenthas shows that these types of helmets often fail safety tests and are not up to proper NFL safety code and measures. For years, the league has contended privately that these facemasks have emboldened (especially defensive) players to lead with their heads when wearing them.

So that means there likely will be no more Bain-like mask for Justin Tuck, or the Hannibal Lechter-looking grill that Darnell Dockett experimented with. From the days of the single bar, you can see that the span of facemasks has changed quite a bit over the course of NFL history. But the league now is trying to crack down so that players have a more unified facemask in the name of safety.

For those players who are claiming to wear the non-traditional facemasks for health-related injuries — such as facial injuries, or a history of being poked in the eyes — they must have their cases re-evaluated prior to the 2014 season before being allowed to play.

That would include the Ravens' Chris Canty, who claims that his past eye problems are the reason he wears a non-traditional mask. He is eligible to apply for a waiver.

What's not clear is what the potential monetary fine would be for such an infraction. Of the handful of players this relates to, it will be interesting to see if some test the NFL on it and try to play with them anyway.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!