Centers don't get much attention, unless they are penalized for holding, but it's hard to take your eyes off 49ers center Alex Mack, a former Cal star. Or rather it's hard to take your eyes off his helmet.
It's, uh, different..
We will explain the unusual helmet later in this story, but we will confirm that the odd helmet shape is not a means to divert attention from Mack's other feature that has earned him some publicity this season: his profuse sweating.
The sweating issue and the effect it has on his quarterbacks have made Mack the subject of some jokes around the 49ers, and maybe -- just maybe -- you'll get some details about his helmet or his perspiration issues during the telecast of Saturday's NFL playoff game against the Packers in Green Bay.
After all this is the big stage, so there are no secrets now.
Mack, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, will be going against his former Cal teammate Aaron Rodgers in that game, and you wonder whether Rodgers noticed the Mack perspiration issue during Golden Bears practices.
Mack, 36, and Rodgers, 38, were teammates in Berkeley in 2004, which was Rodgers' last year at Cal and Mack's first. Mack redshirted that season, but Rodgers must have taken a snap or two from Mack during practices in 2004. Did Rodgers notice that the ball was a little damp?
Forty-Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo noticed it in preseason, as noted by Niners Nation:
“It definitely makes it difficult if you’re not ready for it, I would say. I think I’ve kind of learned throughout my career how to deal with it. The best way I can describe it is you’re playing in a dry game and all of a sudden it’s a rain game when you get the snap. And so if you’re not prepared for that, I guess it could throw you off at times....I can’t believe we’re talking about it.”.
Mack’s excessive perspiration issue caused him to start tucking a towel inside his pants to help slow the flow of sweat. stem the tide. The Athletic noted that in preseason, Mack has “carried a progressively larger towel with him through the first 10 practices.”
Forty-Niners coach Kyle Shanahan provided some details via NBC Sports Bay Area.
“Yes. Yeah. He works hard out there and has a little bit of a sweating issue. And we need like a beach towel. The quarterbacks are working through that."
Shanahan revealed that Mack's sweating was so pronounced in Atlanta that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took drastic measures to make sure it didn't impact him.
"Honestly it happens with almost all centers," Shanahan said. "Maybe Mack a little worse than others, but no, I mean, [Atlanta Falcons QB] Matt Ryan used to make him change his pants like every period. It doesn't stay dry too long. It’s part of football.”
No word on whether Mack had to change his pants during the 49ers' 23-17 win over the Cowboys on Sunday, and presumably perspiration will not be an issue in Saturday's game in Green Bay, where temperatures will go down to about 3 degrees by the time the 7:15 p.m. (Central time) game is over.
So let's focus on that weird-looking helmet, which appears to have an extra layer of protection along Mack's forehead giving the appearance of a battering ram.
Apparently it is a Vicis Zero2 Trench helmet, designed to to give linemen extra protection since they bang heads on every play.
There are several varieties of this helmets, but it is a new piece of equipment and is advertised as "The first ever position specific helmet. Built for life in the trenches."
It also has a variety of facemask styles, and as you can see Mack selected a rather distinctive fasemask design. Presumably it works because it costs about $1,000.
Cover photo by Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports
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