NFL face masks have certainly evolved from the early days of football. As the game evolved, the equipment evolved. Today, we are seeing some of the best equipment ever, whether we’re talking protection or fashion.
I believe there is more behind a face mask than just “face protection”. Guys have taken the mask to the next level. They want to strike fear into their opponents. Intimidation is a factor, even in the NFL. This is my list of the best of the best that the NFL has to offer in face masks. Intimidation will be measured on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most.
Peyton Hillis is a beast. If you ask me, the mask just adds to how tough a guy can look on the field. Imagine the 250 pound running back in the open field heading straight toward you. You might think of the guy a bit differently if he had a single bar across his face instead of the cattle pusher that is Peyton’s face mask.
Intimidation Factor: 6
Justin Tuck has one of the best masks in the league. There is something about pairing a visor with a crazy mask that just leaves you asking, “who the hell is behind that mask?” After all, isn’t that what all masks are supposed to do? Any QB dropping back and hoping to stand their ground in the pocket will surely retreat when they see Tuck barreling down on them.
Intimidation Factor: 8
During his final season, Ray Lewis tore his tricep muscle. He made a quick comeback, only to return as half human, half robot. Not only does Lewis have a visor and a crazy face mask, but he has an estranged mechanical arm. I know we’re not talking about arm braces here, but this adds to the intimidation if you ask me. Between a crazy mask and that arm brace, you can hardly tell there is a human behind there.
Intimidation Factor: 9
Darnell Dockett decided to get in on the action by sporting this new and terrifying face mask, complete with visor. It looks like a slight play off of Justin Tuck’s design, but with a hint of malice. This mask is reminiscent of “Super Shredder” from the Ninja Turtles movies. I actually expect to see the Predator’s mouth when he pulls that helmet off. This Tweet from Dockett explains his choice in mask:
Intimidation Factor: 10
Ladainian owns what I consider to be the best face mask in the NFL. I usually refer to this thing as the Darth Vader mask. WIth a dark black visor and crazy front bars shooting up from the mouth, this is intimidation matching Dockett’s. Again, this guy is masked off from the outside world. For all we know, that could be Vader’s messed up grill underneath there. It is benevolence. It is mysterious. My only hope is that he would have kept it on once at a press conference so we could hear the breathing system.
Intimidation Factor: 10