Although it may have taken longer than expected, the NFL and NFLPA continue to explore ways to put an emphasis on player safety during the 2020 season amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Among the notable topics of discussion to help prevent any unnecessary exchange of bodily fluids are the face shields that are designed to cover the area over the nose and mouth. Oakley has already spent out a number of prototypes to teams for their players to test, including the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams have doubled down on the precautions they have taken to provide a “virus-free” zone around the practice facilities. However, it seems defensive tackle Aaron Donald has not warmed up to the idea of putting on any unnecessary equipment.
Donald said he does not intend to wear the mouth shield due to what he feels are minor benefits and major drawbacks, via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk:
“Honestly, I probably won’t even put that on,” Donald said in a videoconference Wednesday. “I need air when I’m out there running around and breathing with them long drives and stuff. I feel like, we’re out there; we’re playing up close. There is nothing you can really do. If a guy got it and I tackle the guy, then I probably got it because he is going to be sweating and spitting and slobbering all in my face. So, hopefully these guys are just doing what they need to do. The shield, they say it works, but I don’t really think it would, because the way football is played. Like I just said, that’s on guys doing what they need to do the right way outside of this facility, as long as guys do that, we’ll be fine.”
Donald’s comments have been echoed by other notable pass rushers around the NFL such as Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt and Cleveland Browns’ Myles Garrett. Given the fact that they are playing one of the most physically grueling positions in the league, they feel the face shields will not do anything but limit the amount of oxygen that is available for them.
While the Rams are all in on taking whatever safety measures they can, it is safe to assume that they will allow Donald to play as comfortable as he wants. After all, while the face shields will be recommended for players looking to take extra precautions, it is not yet deemed to be mandatory by the NFL.