For awhile now there have been talks about whether or not the NFL, with the help of various health organizations and technology developers, would be able to develop an enhancement to current NFL helmets that would aid in mitigating the chances of players making other players sick during in-game competition. According to ESPN, that achievement has finally been announced.
Oakley has reportedly completed their work on the “Oakley Mouth Shield.” It is a set of plastic sheets that extend down and attach to the face guard that include multiple airways and openings that do not allow for “direct transmission of droplets,” according to Dr. Jeff Crandall, the chair of the NFL’s engineering committee.
Per ESPN’s report, the mouth shields have already been distributed to the Chargers and the Rams — both of whom are located near Oakley’s central headquarters in Foothill Ranch, California — and each team will be responsible for providing feedback.
While it may sound like a pretty cut-and-dry solution to the problem, there will always be those who don’t find it as appealing as the next.
One player who will be firmly against the idea of a face shield is Houston Texans star J.J. Watt. In an interview with ProFootballTalk, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year said that if the face shield becomes a requirement to play, then “I don’t think you’re gonna se me on the field.”
Even though Oakley is the official sponsor of the NFL’s visors and other similar products, other companies will surely develop their own variation of the mouth shield and the chances are high that players will use the one’s they personally prefer.
With only 15 days until the current report date for training camps, there’s not a ton of time left for more breakthroughs in the field. At least having one option is better than none, but we’ll just have to see if the players, themselves, are willing to sacrifice some comfort for practicality.