The NFL is currently testing new protective face masks, made with surgical or N95 material, alongside sports equipment company Oakley, the NFL Players Association’s medical director said on Monday (h/t ESPN).
NFL Players Association’s medical director Thom Mayer spoke, at length, about the process during an appearance on The Adam Schefter Podcast on Monday.
“Back in early March, I had suggested that we should consider novel and emerging ways to handle the helmets and the face masks 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.”
While Mayer did not detail how the new masks would look, he did say that it could cover a player’s entire face mask while adding that engineers are working on every detail the mask would demand.
“They’ve got some prototypes. They’re doing really good work,” Mayer said. “Some of them, when you first look at them, you think, ‘Gosh, no’ ’cause 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 stressed that players with any elevated risk factors, ensure that they are doing everything within their power to prevent their exposure to the coronavirus.
“For a player like that, getting the helmet off, putting a mask on right afterward, 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.”