NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The NFL won’t allow Colts defensive end Robert Mathis to use his face mask on game days.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email to The Associated Press that the NFL determined it was a prohibited non-standard face mask.
At training camp, Mathis has been wearing cagey-looking white face mask — sometimes called “Bane” or “Optimus Prime” masks — that covers up just about everything except his eyes. Several players around the league including Arizona’s Darnell Dockett have been using similar face masks, and those also will be disallowed. The only exception to wearing a customized face mask, McCarthy said, would be for a medical reason.
“The league is funny about trying to alter stuff,” Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said Monday. “We’re still trying to fight it. But they obviously denied everybody. You had a lot of guys — myself, Mathis, Darnell Dockett. There’s a lot of guys that got denied. It was pretty disheartening.”
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has reportedly received medical clearance to wear his non-conforming face mask. Tuck, who has had neck injuries, designed his mask to prevent grab-handed opposing players from getting their mitts inside.
Mathis used his Twitter account to explain the decision: “its official…. the league says i cant wear my facemask. I will return to my run of the mill grill.”
Mathis is a five-time Pro Bowl player and is second on the Colts’ career sacks list with 91 1/2.
He wasn’t surprised by the decision.
On Thursday, he used Twitter to explain that he “may not” win the battle with the league office and asked fans: “anybody got pics/suggestions of a face mask within the horizontal4 and vertical3 guidelines?”
One fan even responded by urging Mathis to file an appeal because “most of your bars r neither verticle or horizontal…more like vertizontical.”
Mathis hasn’t said what face mask he will use, but presumably it will fall within the bounds of league rules.
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