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NFL thinks some face masks encourage players to use their heads

Washington Redskins v New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 18: Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants warms up before a game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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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.