Sorry Batman fans. Bane will not be coming to the NFL any time soon. According to league spokesman Brian McCarthy, the non-standard face masks that are starting to appear more and more around the league will not be allowed on the field without a medical exemption.
In an email to NFL.com, McCarthy explained that masks like the one the Arizona Cardinals' Darnell Dockett has been wearing in training camp are considered "a prohibited non-standard customized face mask" under current NFL rules, and therefore would not be allowed to be worn.
The league authorizes masks up to four horizontal bars and three vertical bars.
The New York Giants' Just Tuck (pictured above) and the Baltimore Ravens' Chris Canty have both received medical waivers for their non-standard face masks and will be allowed to continue to wear them. Tuck has had a neck injury and uses the mask to prevent opponents from being able to grab his helmet and wrench his neck. Canty suffered an eye injury in 2005 and uses the mask, and a visor, to cover his entire face and prevent a occurrence.
However, players like Dockett and the Dallas Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware will have to stop using the face masks. The Colts' Robert Mathis also lost the ability to wear the new mask. After he was reportedly denied a medical exemption, Mathis tweeted:
its official.... the league says i cant wear my facemask. I will return to my run of the mill grill.— ROBERT MATHIS The1st (@RobertMathis98) August 9, 2013
Earlier this preason, the Cardinals tweeted a picture of Dockett wearing his custom mask:
What do u think of the facemask that @ddockett is wearing @ #CardsFanFest? Retweet if u approve! #AZCardinals @nfl pic.twitter.com/reLeORYy1Q— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) June 12, 2013
The league appears to be allowing players some period of time to change back to an approved mask. During Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Ravens' Terrell Suggs was using a mask similar to his teammate Canty, however no known exemption has been granted for Suggs. The league will likely allow players who have been practicing with the non-standard mask to play using it through the remainder of the weekend, but then require them to wear approved items starting in Preseason Week 2.