As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the single-bar kicker’s helmet.

Like most of you, we are all in favor of the NFL doing whatever is necessary to protect its players. Ease up on the defenseless receiver. Respect the fair catch. Save the horse collar tackles for the rodeo ring.

But since we are ever-so-slightly more interested in aesthetics over long-term brain functionality…

…we were devastated when the league banned the single-bar facemask in 2004. As opposed to the 400-pound gladiators surrounding them, placekickers and punters represented the average guy. (If the average guy were a 40-year-old Polish dude with a potbelly and a titanium toe.)

On him, the single bar fit perfectly. European minimalism. Just enough protection to avoid a broken nose.

“It just lets me see the whole football,” said Scott Player, who was the last to wear the single bar. “That bar always seemed to be in the way, so I said, ‘You know what? Let’s just get rid of the whole thing.’”

In a head-scratchingly awesome maneuver, Player would pull the bar below his chin, which would essentially leave him with no facemask. Once he got the punt off, he’d then swivel the bar back up and ready himself as the last line of defense on kick returns. “I call it ‘the convertible.’ One bloody nose in 11 years of using it.”

It’s only a matter of time before the league starts making kickers wear these.

—C.B.S.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • C. Brian Smith