BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL doesn’t have answers for many of the questions that players have regarding the various health-related issues ahead of the 2020 season. But it appears the league has a potential solution regarding player safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Mouth shields on helmets.
While players shot down the idea of wearing face masks to help control the spread of the virus while taking the field this season, they appear a little more open to these new helmets. They were designed by Oakley, which already provided visors for players throughout the league, and were already sent out to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers for testing, according to NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer. Various player representatives and equipment managers were also sent the new helmets for feedback.
The biggest issues over a mouth shield were visibility and breathability, but Mayer said no player who has tried the helmet has voiced those concerns.
“We’ve only had it on a few players — we have 2,500 players in the league — but I was surprised that … claustrophobia has not been an issue yet,” Mayer said, according to ESPN. “I think it will be when we [have more players testing them].”
First look at the Oakley mouth shield that will be sent out to NFL teams this week in hopes of protecting players from COVID-19.
Currently, there is no mandate to wear a face shield, but the NFL's medical experts are advocating for it.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) July 13, 2020
In the design, a plastic sheet extends down and attaches to the face guard. There are airways and openings on the mouth of the shield, but they will not allow for the direct transmission of respiratory droplets, which is how COVID-19 is spread.
NFL training camps are set to kick off at the end of the month, and at the moment, there are no mandates to wear a face shield while playing or practicing. That may change in the near future, as the NFL looks to get the 2020 season underway.