By now you’ve probably already seen the new facemask that Justin Tuck of the NY Giants will be wearing during the 2012 NFL season. There are more bars running on diagonals across the mask than we have ever seen before, creating a wild lattice work effect.
Tuck’s mask is being touted for two reasons: 1) it looks crazy, and 2) the mask is made of titanium so the extra metal doesn’t actually increase the weight of the helmet when compared to a standard looking facemask.
Lacrosse has been using titanium in its facemasks for years, and while the Ti helmets are more expensive, the facemask patterns really aren’t all that different from football.
The basic configuration of bars running horizontally across the face, and one bar running down the middle, with two on the sides, is more or less constant. Another similarity that every sports field helmet today shares is the plastic chin guard that attaches the face mask to the helmet at the bottom.
If facemasks are going to be modified, these two areas – the center bar configuration and plastic chin piece – seem like obvious starting points.
Hockey and box lacrosse use helmets without plastic chin pieces. Older lacrosse helmets only had a foam pad on the lowest part of the mask. How plastic chin pieces became standard is beyond us. In the future, I think we can expect to see chin guard-less helmets experimented with.
As far as the actual lacrosse facemask configuration goes, an open area in the middle does not seem out of the question. Football facemasks can be open all the way across, and lacrosse facemasks have long open portions on the side, so why can’t those just be moved to the middle?
If you look at a box lacrosse helmet, and you took out the middle bar, then moved the two side bars in to the middle more, it could definitely still work. The space is small enough and it will still provide solid protection on the sides. Therefore a middle bar shouldn’t be required, especially if materials like titanium are used.
If you were make ONE major change to your lacrosse helmet facemask, what would it be?