Chris Canty has a simple response to the NFL’s demand for annual medical exemptions for extravagant facemasks: no special mask, no football. Canty has worn his intimidating mask, which features vertical and horizontal bars along with a visor to protect his eyes, since his rookie season in 2005.
Canty told the Baltimore Sun that he simply can’t play football without the mask. “It’s simple for me, no eye shield and custom mask means I can’t play. Eye would be at risk. I invented it. It’s that simple. I can’t play without it. I can’t help it that other guys think it’s cool and they want to wear it, too. It’s a necessity for me.”
Canty was struck in the eye with a beer bottle prior to the NFL draft in 2005 and had to have emergency surgery to save his eyesight. He was one of four players who was granted an exception to wear a non-standard mask last season, but he says he wasn’t even aware of the policy.
A memo was sent out to teams this week detailing the league’s crackdown on non-standard masks. The NFL cites medical studies that show the masks can be a safety hazard and fail safety tests more frequently over standard masks.
While Canty shouldn’t have trouble obtaining an exemption this season, it is interesting that he wasn’t even aware of the rule last season. Of course, it could be that the league just let it slide because they knew his situation. Perhaps the desire of other players to wear the masks for non medical reasons is what is driving the more formal enforcement.
Do you think that non-standard facemasks should be allowed, or will they present too much risk?