NFL banned grill-like facemasks


RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said Monday he finds it “disheartening” that the league will not permit him to wear a customized face mask on his helmet during games.

Orakpo confirmed that he and other NFL players were informed by the league they cannot wear such “grill-style” face masks.

“I have to make a switch just for the time being, after all that work,” Orakpo said at the Redskins’ training camp. “But, you know, the league is funny about trying altered stuff. We’re still trying to fight it. But they obviously denied everybody. You had a lot of guys — myself, [Robert] Mathis, Darnell Dockett. There’s a lot of guys that got denied. It was pretty disheartening. But I’ll be all right.”

Orakpo, the Indianapolis Colts’ Mathis, the Arizona Cardinals’ Dockett, the New York Giants’ Justin Tuck and the Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware are among the players who have tried the new face masks. The league reportedly will allow players to wear such nonstandard face masks if they have a medical reason for doing so. Tuck and the Baltimore Ravens’ Chris Canty reportedly have received medical clearance to wear their nonstandard versions.

“I don’t know,” Orakpo said. “It’s kind of tough. Obviously it’s different. And it does have a sort of look appeal to it. But it’s also for protection as well. We’re supposed to be all about protection, and we get denied for something that benefits us. It’s something that’s kind of disheartening.”

Orakpo said he hasn’t given up yet on attempting to appeal the decision.

“Hopefully we can,” he said. “We’re obviously in the process right now of trying to get it cleared again. But right now we’re denied, so we just have to go with what they say.”