As arguably the most competitive sport in the U.S., the start of the NFL season is always filled with surprises. While some players showed up in expensive watches or with good luck charms, the Seattle Seahawks' newest wide receiver showed up with something else — a pacifier. It's definitely an attention-grabbing item to wear, and fans are curious: Why does DK Metcalf wear a pacifier to play?
What is the purpose of the pacifier?
Surprisingly, players in the NFL are not required to wear mouth guards, but they remain highly recommended for safety. The main purpose of a mouth guard is "to protect your teeth from any impact. Without a mouthguard, when biting down to absorb the impact [from a collision on the field], there's a good chance he may chip or break a tooth. Mouth guards help protect the teeth by acting as a shock absorber and lessening the impact to the jaw."
That being said, it should be noted that many players take the time to personalize their mouth guards, because they're not required to play, and rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf did just that. Fans began to notice his mouth guard was in the shape of a pacifier, and started commenting on Twitter about the look.
As for DK himself, this is what he had to say about choosing a pacifier rather than a more regular mouth guard: "I'm a baby in the league," he said. "I'm a rookie, so I'm young, but I try to play like a grown man." Symbolic and protective? We have to stan.
It also doesn't hurt that DK knows the owner of Battle Sports Science, a company that produces many NFL-standard mouth guards, and requested a few of them just before the season started. "Just me trying to be creative and bringing out my personality with the mouthpiece," DK said.
DK's attention to extra safety is connected to his past.
The NFL star didn't always have such an easy time on the field, and he nearly didn't have a football career due to a freak injury during his time at college. Two years ago, DK suffered a neck injury during this time at Ole Miss, and doctors told him he might never play football ever again.
During his time at Ole Miss, DK actually sustained a number of football-related injuries, from a broken foot to the intense broken neck that was briefly mistaken for a fairly common stinger injury. The day the injury was discovered, DK recalls doctors telling him he might never play football again: "...He said if I had gotten hit any harder, the bone would've pierced my spinal cord and I would have been paralyzed."
Thankfully, DK underwent intense surgery and rehab, and after being medically cleared by a team of doctors, followed the footsteps of his NFL legacy father back onto the field. It just goes to show that despite the somewhat goofy appearance of a pacifier, this player is taking no chances with his health. We can't wait to see where he goes next in his career!