The start of the 2020 NFL season is just around the corner, although with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to grow, the league still has a lot of work to do to ensure a safe playing field for the players.
Many have expressed concern in recent weeks, with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay even asking how they are expected to maintain social distancing while playing a sport such as football.
It appears one company is working on a solution as Oakley revealed its new Mouth Shield that players and teams have begun testing. According to Tim McManus of ESPN, the Rams are one of the teams Oakley sent the product to first to check out:
The mouth shield has already been distributed to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers — two teams close to Oakley’s home base — per NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer, and has also been sent to various player representatives and equipment managers for feedback.
Here is what the design of the new Oakley Mouth Shield is and what it is designed to do:
The Oakley Prizm Lens Technology used by skiers, military personnel and, most recently, NFL players for enhanced color and contrast in their visors is featured in the new design. Plastic sheets extend down and attach to the face guard. There are airways and openings on the mouth shield but none that allow the direct transmission of droplets, according to the chair of the NFL’s engineering committee, Dr. Jeff Crandall.
The NFL has not yet mandated that every player were the Mouth Shield for the 2020 season to ensure safety from coronavirus, although that could come in the near future:
“That’s certainly what we’re going to encourage,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “And we hope that we’re going to land on a product design that’s something that everyone would want to wear, because they’ll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance.”
Players being able to see and breathe is the biggest issue with a product like this, although if they can figure it out so everyone is comfortable wearing it then this could be the key to a 2020 season taking place without issues.
The Rams report to training camp in less than two weeks, so it will be interesting to see if they are wearing Oakley Mouth Shields when they take the field.