John T. Riddell, the founder of the Riddell company, created the first football helmet in the 1940’s. The first few prototypes did not have facemasks, and the loss of teeth was common amongst the football community. Then, in 1955, a Riddell consultant created the first football facemask. It was only one bar, but introduced a new concept that would help improve player safety and their dental health over the next fifty years. Today, there a multitude of facemask options for players as well as a number of different football helmet companies.
Skill players usually have a middle of the road facemask. Not one that is too heavy and interfering, but also not one that provides very little jaw protection like the kicker’s. These facemasks are usually different based on aesthetic preference.
Lineman have massive facemasks because they usually partake in the most violent contact and are susceptible to jaw, mouth or facial injury. The facemasks they wear are very heavy and usually go all the way down below the jaw line.
The leaders in football helmet production are Schutt and Riddell, whose products are second to none in terms of safety and style. Facemasks, whether massive for an offensive lineman or small for a kicker, have helped protect players jaw since their inception.