The last non-kicker to wear a single-bar facemask was Washington quarterback Joe Theismann. It’s an iconic look of days gone by, giving the player minimal protection from fists, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet.
In a recent visit to PFT Live, Chris Simms and I asked Theismann why he chose to wear such limited face protection.
“Actually, stupidity was probably a driving force,” he said. “I’ve had seven broken noses and cosmetic dentistry is a great thing for my front teeth. Got those knocked out by Byron Hunt. . . . When I hand it off the two bars bothered me. Chris, you know it. We’re finicky when it comes to the quarterback position. I didn’t wear anything on my right arm. I didn’t wear a wrist band. I wore an elbow pad on my left, but nothing on my right. The way the ball feels in your hand, the way you see things, we’re probably the most finicky people in the game when it comes to that. For me it just bothered me.
“Plus, there’s something else nobody really knows, and I don’t share it a lot. Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgensen both wore single bars. Now, what would it have looked like if I wore a double bar? A little bit of peer pressure.”
The single-bar facemask is long gone from football. Yes, it looked good. From a safety standpoint, however, there’s no reason to have so much of the player’s face exposed.