GRAFTON—Although many people still don’t believe that it can be feasible, we may soon begin seeing football players wearing a little something extra this season.
According to NFL Players’ Association Medical Director Thom Mayer, NFL engineers and long-time equipment company Oakley have been testing prototypes of modified facemasks that could contain surgical or N95 material, since there will probably be a recommendation that the league use such masks to protect its players from COVID-19 when the NFL decides to return to the field.
“Back in early March, I had suggested that we should consider novel and emerging ways to handle the helmets and the facemasks and the spread of the virus,” Mayer said. “And these guys, the bioengineers that we use and that the league uses (Oakley), as you may or may not know, does all the face visors for the league under contract. These guys got the bit between their teeth.”
The commissioner says he isn’t sure how the modifications will look, but he explained that it is realistic to believe that the new designs could cover the player’s entire facemask and that the engineers are working on every aspect of the design to make sure they get it right.
“They’ve got some prototypes and they’re doing really good work,” he explained. “Some of them, when you first look at them, you think, ‘gosh, no,’ because you’re not used to seeing it. You’re just not used to seeing it. But they’re looking at every issue you can imagine, including when it fogs up. What do we do with that? But these guys are used to dealing with this stuff.”
Mayer also said that Oakley has experience with designing durable eyeglasses that don’t fog up which are still used by the military.
He also advises players who might have inflated risk factors to do anything and everything possible to prevent exposure to the virus.
“For a player like that, getting the helmet off, putting a mask on right afterwards, maintaining social distancing when not in the field as much as possible, using single-use hydration, whether water, Gatorade, whatever it might be, I mean, just every little detail,” he said. “Anybody who’s got a risk, I would advise them to be zealous, religious, and frankly, almost maniacally committed to minimizing the chance of spreading the virus.”