As sports slowly and cautiously start to pick back up around the U.S., leagues have been following numerous health protocols in order to keep athletes and coaches safe, healthy.
For example, the NBA has its players in a “bubble” with limited outside contact. Additionally, a number of leagues have also required face coverings and have done continuous testing as well.
Now, with football season just around the corner, the NFL has come up with something it thinks can help keep athletes safe come the fall.
In collaboration with some of the doctors and engineers within the league and Players Association, Oakley is introducing a new product called the Oakley Mouth Shield, according to ESPN staff writer Tim McManus. The overall goal of the shield is to help limit the spread of coronavirus while players are on the field.
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) July 13, 2020
How it Works
Currently, there is no rule to enforce wearing a face mask. But, doctors within the NFL are pushing that the shield be worn by players this fall.
In terms of the mouth shield itself, there is a plastic sheet that extends down and attaches to the face guard on the helmet. Furthermore, the shield is also built with numerous holes that act like airways as well.
The most current face shield design seen on the helmets came after Oakley went through a repeated process that was almost fully based on player feedback. Protection, comfort and functionality were some of the main points of emphasis for when it came to making the product.
So far, the mouth shields have been handed out to two NFL organizations. The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
While the overall goal behind the new mouth shields is safety for the athletes, numerous NFL players have voiced their opinions on the product. And it hasn’t been a very positive reaction.
Some of the worries surrounding the mouth shields have to do with visibility and breathability. J.J. Watt, a well-known figure across the league, is just one of the athletes against the idea.
McManus said some players may be more hesitant to make an equipment change if it has a different look or feel to it.
There is also the possibility that athletes will go in a different direction in terms of getting face masks for the season. Oakley is the main supplier of the NFL, but players may want to choose a different manufacture.
It remains to be seen whether all the players will be on board with the league’s new face shields. The product will start making its way to the teams. This should allow the NFL enough to get feedback from more athletes.
We’ll see what the response is like in the coming weeks.
Sound used in this story is courtesy of ABCNewscall.