The NFL and the sports equipment company Oakley are working on face masks that could contain surgical or N95 material in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the NFL Players Association’s medical director said Monday.
Dr. Thom Mayer told “The Adam Schefter Podcast” on Monday he’s expecting a recommendation that the NFL could use some kind of mask to protect players from the illness when the league starts the 2020 season.
“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 said he wasn’t sure how the new face masks would look, he believes the designs could cover the player’s entire face mask.
“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.”
The NFL is still set on starting play in September even as the three other major professional sports leagues are in limbo. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that virtual workouts will continue through May.
Coaching and training staff have worked with the players by conducting classroom instruction and on-field activities through digital applications instead of at team facilities, which have been closed since late March. Those virtual meetings can occur for four hours per day, four days a week.
Fox News’ Dan Canova contributed to this report.