The Man Behind the Mask(s)

darnell dockettThe word "off-season" generally translates to "really slow news time" as far as sports are concerned, so we end up talking about stuff like uniforms and random hobbies that players have a lot. On the uniform front, several very unique facemasks have been garnering attention this year, including a seriously intense mask donned by Darnell Dockett this week (pictured to the left).
By and large, there seems to be one behind this mask madness. I tracked down Alan MacFerran, the man in charge at an outfit called BadAss Masks, to see what he had to say about the facial revolution sweeping football.
Packer Perspective:  How did you start BadAss Masks? What prompted you to start making unusual facemasks?

Alan MacFerran: BadAss Masks actually was started because of the near-instant demand for our product. My 11 year old son who plays football mentioned that he wanted to have a cool facemask similar to one that he saw in the NFL.  So I took a spare mask that we had at the house and stripped the coating off the mask.  I had some metal round stock at the house.  I used that to start laying some metal down on the mask until it looked pretty cool.

image I took that mask and started a Twitter account for it, @badassmasks.  The mask got some decent attention on Twitter.  Then Nick Moody, LB, FSU hooked up with me and said he wanted a mask to wear for the East-West Shrine College All-Star Game.  He stated that he wanted a mask that when you saw it, you would think of Bane from Batman Beyond.  So this is what I came up with:

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Within 2 hours of me posting the Bane mask on Twitter, @badassmasks went from 65 followers to over 500 followers.  So that is what I mean about that instant demand of our product.  My phone didn't stop ringing for 4 days straight, so my wife and I decided to incorporate and give this facemask thing a try.

PP: Are there any specific old-school designs that you like? What jumps out about how masks have changed from the "old days" until now?

AM: I'll be honest, there is really no designs that I really fell in love with growing up, or even in recent years.  If anything caught my interest, it was the masks that used flat bars similar to this.

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This style caught my eye because it was different.  Anything I've ever done in life, I've always tried to do it differently than the way it's always been done.

There really hasn't been much change in facemasks since the late 70s, early 80s as far as the look of facemasks, until the last couple years.  Ladainian Tomlinson and Peyton Hillis had a cool mask several years ago, but nobody took it a ran with it.

PP: What's your most popular design?

AM: I have a couple designs that are getting the bulk of attention. The mask that looks like Bane is still very popular. I built the 'Tribute' for a player who had lost his best friend in high school in an auto accident.  His friend wore jersey #8, so I included the Roman numeral VIII on the forehead bars.

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Then I just built a mask that we're calling the 'Freight Train' because it looks like a freight train! This mask was just sent out to an NFL camp yesterday.  This mask should make a statement.

image (4) ... No one has ever tried or seen anything added in the bull ring of the mask or on the bars across the forehead.

PP: Do you market to NFL players or do you have any high profile clients?

AM: I really haven't marketed to any NFL players.  They generally call or text me.    There are three very high profile players that I am working on now and two rookies I'm working on masks for.

PP:  Where do you see facemasks going over the next few years? What trends do you see developing?

Well, I can't speak for the other manufacturers, but I know that B.A. Masks will be heading in about 10 different directions.  We have several patent pending designs for functional use of facemasks.  We are also contracted out by 3 companies to do some design prototypes related to facemasks.

We are still designing great football facemasks, AND we are extremely excited about gaining great momentum in lacrosse.   Then there is fair interest in hockey, and baseball. As far as any trends developing... Hopefully I'll be spearheading most of them!

I've been dealing with universities to create display masks that can be worn by athletes while modeling the cutting-edge uniforms that are coming out every day.  The display masks will be used for the uniform reveals, photo ops, print ads, etc. which all help with recruiting student athletes that are looking for the latest swag.

The latest program that we've done work for is University of Arizona.  One of the masks was a script 'Cats' mask.

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Shortly after our 'Cats' mask was posted, one of the helmet manufacturers tried something similar to ours for another school.  I think it is for University of Tulsa, but I'm not real sure because it's a little hard to read...

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Very interesting stuff! We'll have to keep an eye out for more of Alan's handiwork throughout the upcoming NFL season.

Jon Meerdink