UPDATE: Brian Orakpo confirmed that his facemask has been banned this season.
On Friday the NFL told Indianapolis Colt defensive end, Robert Mathis, that he would not be allowed to wear his newly styled facemask this upcoming season.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy said Friday that the facemask Robert Mathis has been using throughout training camp is “considered a prohibited non-standard customized face mask.” According to McCarthy, “a player would need a medical reason to wear this type of face mask,”
There are others in the NFL who use facemask’s that are nearly identical to the one Mathis was attempting to wear. Baltimore’s Chris Canty, New York Giants Justin Tuck, as well as Washington’s Brian Orakpo.
According to the NFL, Chris Canty and Justin Tuck are both allowed to wear theirs because of medical clearance. An eye injury in 2005 for Canty and a neck injury for Tuck are the reasons they’ve been allowed to wear theirs, but what about Orakpo?
Mike Shanahan was asked Saturday whether the NFL had contacted Brian Orakpo about his facemask, the answer however was “no, they haven’t. Not that I know of, anyhow.”
Orakpo tweeted his new facemask at the end of May, which was inspired by the villain Bane from the latest Dark Knight Rises, Batman movie series. Orakpo did give credit to Justin Tuck, who started the trend, but it’s unclear as to what makes his acceptable.
Perhaps Orakpo was able to pull some strings with his recent pectoral injuries, though that would seem like a long shot as that has nothing to do with the face/neck region. The helmet could also simply be within league rules, while being custom.
It is important to note that Orakpo did not play with his newly designed helmet against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. Whether that has anything to do with the banning of custom facemasks is pure speculation (he could be waiting for Week 1 to unveil it, even though he’s already worn it in practice).
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