DeMarcus Ware can't wear face mask

Updated: August 27, 2013, 4:28 PM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware will not be allowed to wear an eight-bar face mask this season.

The NFL disallowed the face mask Ware had hoped to wear for the same reason it did not allow Indianapolis' Robert Mathis to wear his: it's a non-standard, customized face mask.

Ware wore the face mask during the early part of training camp. He also wore it in his first preseason appearance, on Aug. 9 at Oakland. The league made him change the face mask after the game and file more paperwork to request the change.

[+] EnlargeFacemask
DeMarcus WareThe NFL will not allow DeMarcus Ware to wear his non-standard, customized eight-bar face mask.

"I can understand the formality of the face mask situation, but if somebody is trying to use it to protect themselves in a league where they call it a 'safety league,' not saying you want to try to set yourself away from any other guys, [but] it's adding things to the product to enhance its safety and its durability," Ware said. "I would see it that way, but it's on the league's discretion how they do things."

According to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, players cannot wear a non-standard helmet unless given medical approval. Baltimore's Chris Canty and Justin Tuck of the New York Giants have received medical permission.

Ware has a history of suffering stingers and had hoped to be able to wear the new mask.

McCarthy said members of the NFL's head, neck and spine committee had concerns that face masks added weight to the helmet and also the additional bars could pose a threat to opposing players who could get their fingers caught. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment has not tested helmets with those face masks.

In his first eight seasons, Ware wore a U-bar face mask he called "The Bull," but he moved to a mask without the U-bar because of his switch from outside linebacker to defensive end.

"When I'm down on the defensive line, you can't see [with the U bar], so now I opened it all the way and I can see better," Ware said.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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