NFL thinks some face masks encourage players to use their heads

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The NFL took some players by surprise recently when it announced a new rule prohibiting non-standard face masks, specifically those masks that have dozens of bars. NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino says one problem with those face masks is they may actually encourage players to lead with their heads.

Blandino told guest host Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show that players may be too likely to initiate head-first contact if they’re wearing supersized face masks.

“The helmet, as technology has gotten better and better, players feel more empowered to use their heads, and that’s part of what we’re trying to get out of the game,” Blandino said. “So I think we’re still looking at that issue, what is a standard face mask, what should be allowed.”

A handful of players, like Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty, have medical clearance to wear more protective face masks because they have had past eye injuries and need the greater protection that a bigger face mask provides. But many players are just doing it because they think the face masks look cool. And the NFL isn’t going to allow that anymore.

52 responses to “NFL thinks some face masks encourage players to use their heads

  1. Take the face masks off and put on goggles if you think your eyes need protection. If people think their face is going to get messed up, they’re not going to lead with anything NEAR their head. I bet we see a reduction in concussions too.

  2. so by that logic, give them a ‘regular’ helmet so the players dont feel as comfortable using their head?

    why not just give them leather pads for helmets then? gimme a break…

  3. Sounds like spin to me. Most likely its because they aren’t getting a cut. Once the owners figure out a way to make money off the customized face masks their “safety” concerns will disappear.

  4. The players should only be allowed to change the masks if they have a medical issue, otherwise keep it conformed.

  5. Trying to get the head-first collisions out of football is a daunting task for sure. The speed of the game will ensure that you cannot eliminate all of these collisions though, and I anticipate some very questionable calls from refs to continue. When a ball-carrier ducks his head at the last millisecond or turns it to the side and a defender does the same thing, how can you stop that? Better yet, how do you discern WHO IS AT FAULT?

    Some of these calls remind me of the NBA in the sense that the defender often gets called for the foul, even when the contact was initiated by the offensive player. Tough judgement calls for the refs…

  6. filthymcnasty1 says:
    Aug 14, 2013 1:47 PM
    Or perhaps Rodger is just a micro managing control freak.


    OMG I’m so proud of you! You made a post on this site without mentioning the Vikings!

  7. There is truth to the psychology behind this. Some players in the NFL have actually advocated “No Helmet” practices so players are forced to think about head safety at all times.

  8. Three high school defensive players have been paralyzed in the last twelve months when their facemasks have been grabbed by offensive players. Google it. Grabbing and torquing a player by his facemask to bring him to the ground is the most dangerous thing that can happen in a football game.

    It’s even worse when a defensive lineman or linebacker is facemasked while rushing the quarterback, because now a 300+pound lineman is using his weight ad brute strength to yank their neck around backward, instead of sideways or forward like what usually happens on defensive facemasks. Why do Canty and Tuck have clearance for their special masks? Because they already have neck issues.

    When a player uses his helmet to “spear” another player during a tackle, his face, and therefore his facemask, is facing the ground. Using this to justify the rule is ludicrous.

    If the issue here really is “safety”; as opposed to the No Fun League, or a mad power trip,it’s safety for the league’s star offensive players, and a big finger to defenders.

  9. That’s a weak retort by the NFL.

    The NFL is all about the NFL. They don’t want their stars to become bigger than the game. Then they lose power in CBA negotiations. The crazy facemasks differentiate players, especially at quick glance. It allows a player to create a bigger profile for themselves.

    This is just a weak response to a criticism by some players that the custom facemasks help protect player saftey, which the NFL is apparently all about these days. Though anyone with half a brain can see that NFL isn’t REALLY about player saftey, they’re about CYA.

  10. Pads and protective equipment in general allow players to be more reckless with their bodies. Does this mean we shouldn’t use it?

    I don’t see why they are making a distinction with facemasks.

  11. I thought this whole dopey “heads up” campaign was about encouraging players to lead with their facemasks?

    If the NFL didn’t sell itself, I swear that half of these dumb figureheads would be living under bridges.

  12. they should be banned, idiot Giants and their obnoxious helmets. Sad part is the dummy Giants fans think theyre cool. If you think theyre so cool then go watch transformers and leave the football for us men. Not G men, not G-Unit men, MEN.

  13. The players will never be more powerful in CBA negotiations because the owners give them jobs and then replace them with ease. The owners could fold the NFL anytime they want and then open the MFL and not hire any current players and the fans would still watch and buy. Fans are fans of cities and branding and winning and action.

  14. How about just getting rid of the “helmet”? Facemasks are incredibly dangerous, period. If the league really cared about safety they would force Riddell to update their design. Maybe some kind of Motorcycle helmet type of deal, so there was nothing for anyone to grab on to. Plus a bike helmet can theoretically absorb vastly more force than a football helmet while weighing less and being less bulky.

    You know how, in spy movies, James bond or Jason Bourne, or whoever, grabs communists/terrorists/Javier Bardem by the head and twists it violently around, breaking the bad guy’s neck and killing him instantly? When a defensive player blows past a lineman, the lineman is now behind him; if the lineman attempts to protect his quarterback by grabbing the defenders facemask and yanking him backwards, he is basically pulling a Bond/Bourne/Bauer neck break thing.

    I’m a PT, and one of our new outpatients was scratching his chin, slipped on a rock, and literally broke his own neck. Maybe it’s just a minor phobia of paralyzing myself, but I would much rather spear and be speared with the crown of the helmet than have my facemask torqued backward by a 360 pound left tackle.

    Safety is safety, either enforce it for both sides of the ball, or let go of your authoritarian micromanagement style.

  15. The league needed to set a standard rule or who knows what cwazy masks the players would soon be sporting.

    Like that stupid ‘darth vader’ mask Tomlinson had.

    I wholeheartedly support individuality… just not in the NFL.

    Good job Godell and comp.

  16. So, the facemasks help players feel safe and confident that if they use their head they won’t get hurt? And your solution is to reduce the number of bars a facemask can have??!

    By that logic, the NFL should replace helmets with the old leather helmets so the players don’t feel safe at all, thus removing any fearless game play.


  17. I feel like safties are the biggest offender as far as leading with the head at defenseless players. Even if they aren’t, it still occurs frequently by them. And I typically see them all wearing standard facemasks.

    Just another point to add to the many that were previously stated to say that this logically makes no sense.

  18. Take away all liability for the team, for the NFL, and the helmet manufacturer, then allow the players to spear and do whatever they want.
    Let the NFLPA educate its players on the fact that if they allow themselves to get a head injury, whether they are the perp or the victim, that they will have no legal recourse and they could lose millions.
    THAT will force players to adjust how they play. Players didn’t risk head injury in the early years of football, whereas now players feel emboldened to lead with their head b/c they can always sue everyone for damage that they caused to themselves, so my theory holds water.

  19. NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino says one problem with those face masks is they may actually encourage players to lead with their heads.

    “The helmet, as technology has gotten better and better, players feel more empowered to use their heads…”

    They FEEL empowered? How would you know? Have you asked them or is this yet another assumptiuon from someone who hasn’t ever laved up in an NFL game, or likely ANY football game on ANY level?

    It’s the facemasks that are giving them the power, so if we ban the funky facemasks they will be less likely to stick their head into the fray? Somebody not too long ago said that he doesn’t think there will be football in 30 years – he may be right.

  20. They should make helmets out of Styrofoam so they can be used to protect you but not do damage.

    You may have to replace your helmet after a play but they would probably be so cheap it wouldn’t matter.

  21. Wait a sec, isn’t leading with the CROWN of the helmet the primary issue causing problems. How the hell does what the facemask looks like either encourage or discourage this behavior? Or did I miss the redesign that put the facemask at the crown?

  22. OMG. What next. Justintuckrule has it right, lead with the face mask, that is what the NFL has been preaching, but now that causes a mental inclination to use the crown of the helmet. Wow. The NFL just wants to control everything players wear, it’s all about keeping the image of the game.

    Ok, get rid of the stupid pink players garb for the breast cancer society. This is a real eyesore to see historic uniforms destroyed for the NFL ego. I think it is a great cause, but it is an eyesore to watch. Put a pink sticker on the side of the helmet, and send them the money, I will send more too if you stop degrading the NFL uniforms of old.

    By the way, my mother died of breast cancer, but pink socks and wristbands on NFL players would have disgusted her. Go mom.

    The two faced NFL.

  23. Taking the helmet off may reduce head to head collisions but what happens when that 250 LB drops his shoulder or forearm into someone’s face? This isn’t the same small athletes from 50 years ago

  24. I think the NFL has lost touch with the game…who are these decision makers??? This safety thing is getting way out of hand…I think every job/sport has it’s safety and or life long pit falls. I work in an office and let me just say having to sit on my arse all day is not good, my eyes are going bad from staring at a computer all day, my arse gets fat from sitting on it all day and whoa unto me if I should get up stretch and walk around to keep the blood circulating properly…then i’m goofing off.

    Bottom line you can only do so much, my knees are shot, I have a lower lumbar issue and that’s not from this job it’s from 15 years of military pounding…don’t see anyone making a big deal about my longevity and repercussions down the road.

  25. As I understood it the ‘grill’ face mask Justin Tuck wears is to stop him getting facemasked due to a bulging disk in his neck/back? If the NFL wants to stop facemasking, and players getting their necks wrenched, why not make Tucks face mask the only one players can wear? This would even back up their new found “love” for players safety.

  26. It’s a simple reason why the NFL is not letting these guys pick their own facemasks. Riddell (or whatever company makes the helmets) is not profiting off of this. The unique facemasks are often copyrighted by the company who makes them and cannot be sold by the official helmet provider of the NFL. The NFL is simply protecting their partner and from a purely business sense, I have no problem with this.

    However, for the NFL to insult our intelligence and come out with this bogus excuse, is ridiculous. Just come out and say “To help protect both the NFL brand and the brand of our Partners, we will not allow players to wear customized facemasks unless medical clearance has been obtained by the player.”

  27. Arguing based on this that they should remove helmets so they can’t be used as a weapon is a slippery slope. Removing helmets makes the sport much more dangerous.

    These new facemasks can be used if there is a reason a player needs the protection but it should be obvious if full grill-like facemasks are allowed which can be used to hit somebody with hurting yourself it’s quite obvious players would do that.

    Players already use the top of helmets as weapons despite the risk of injury that causes, why would players not use these facemasks as a weapon if it did no damage to themselves? The NFL’s argument is perfectly sound.

  28. Players wear tinted visors, clear visors, hip towels, gloves, head bands around their neck, neck rolls, and arm sleeves to look cool too.

    This is like the TD celeration argument all over again. Put them all in a copy of Nick Lowery’s helmet.

  29. If they padded the outside of the helmets they wouldn’t be able to use them as weapons as much.

  30. As some have said this rule contradicts the “heads up” campaign and clearly is designed to protect the NFL’s business partners ie: helmet manufacturers.

    Who is wearing these modified facemasks? Linemen. You mean to tell me linemen don’t lead with their heads every single snap?

  31. The problem is they design helmets like armor in the sense that its there to protect the person wearing it and you don’t care about your opponent.

    Get Nerf involved and safety will evolve.

  32. Time for the league to truly look at making it flag football. Safety is a concern but the game is loosing its identity .

  33. How ridiculous! Players should be able to be proactive & prevent injury with better facemask design (more bars).

    It’s stuff like this that you loose it with the NFL! Very contradictory in their message. Do we have to wait for a player to be paralyzed from another player grabbing a facemask & twisting the head in some God aweful way before something as common sense as this is allowed?

  34. Recently some team (I don’t recall which one) just brought in a player who has played rugby his whole life. The first thing he said was that the helmet encouraged him to lead with his face!
    There ya go!!!

  35. Here is an idea? Why don’t they just stop wearing helmets all together and give them flags to rip off! They are making, a complete mess out of football! I really don’t get it man! These players are making more and more money and taking less and less risks! Just let the damn players play! The people playing the sport should be making the rules, not some pencil pusher behind a desk! Makes me sick I tell ya!

  36. Why not use a Fencing-like protective headgear to avoid concussions and head-injuries related to helmet implementation. Fencing requires a mask but no helmet. If padding from boxing-headgear can be integrated with a fencing-like mask, most leading would be done with the shoulder pads rather than the players’ head.
    Love Jimi.

  37. Let’s have a reality check. These guys have been coached from day one to hit this way. They’ve been taught to use the protective gear as a weapon against an opponent.

    I think this update to the facemask rule is long overdue. I’m with Ditka – they should outlaw the facemasks all together.

  38. An old Seinfeld had a library cop named “Bookman.” In that episode, Kramer noted how apropos the name was and quipped about it being like an ice cream man named Kohn/Cohen/Cone.

    Well, I think “Blandino” is a very fitting name for this guy.

    The NFL just plans to use this as Exhibit 132 in its defense against the players in the concussion lawsuit — it’s just another coat of window dressing intended to show they’re working in the best interests of the players (as they always have been).

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