The shield, produced by Oakley, was designed by doctors and engineers from the
NFL and the NFL Players Association, ESPN reported Monday. A limited number of
players have tried it out so far, and the distribution to all 32 teams will
give the gear a better test.
The NFL is not yet requiring players to wear a face shield, but it is
recommended. The league and the union have not yet settled on safety protocol
for the upcoming season.
"That's certainly what we're going to encourage," said Dr. Allen Sills, the
NFL's chief medical officer, per ESPN. "And we hope that we're going to land
on a product design that's something that everyone would want to wear, because
they'll see the value and want that additional protection without any
detriment to performance."
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The Oakley mouth shield is clear plastic and attaches to the faceguard on
helmets. There are openings for air, but they are designed so that droplets
will not escape.
Thus far, the two Los Angeles teams -- the Rams and the Chargers -- have been
able to try them out, and assorted others around the league have received the
shield to offer feedback.
NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer told ESPN that visibility and
breathe-ability have been brought up by the players.
"We've only had it on a few players -- we have 2,500 players in the league --
but I was surprised that ... claustrophobia has not been an issue yet," he
said. "I think it will be when we [have more players testing them]."
The Oakley shield could wind up being an option for players in the regular
season, but they also could choose to wear a face shield from other
manufacturers.
"Just like everything we do, whether we're talking about better cleats or
better performing helmets, it's all about something that's safer and yet also
protects and in many cases enhances performance," Sills said. "That's the same
mantra and the same sort of approach that we're taking here. I'm really
pleased with how the work is going along. We're not at a finished product yet.
Like most things in health safety, there's really no finish line here. So
we're hoping to continue to innovate and improve as we go along. But we're
excited about where we are and excited about the potential role this may play
in risk mitigation on the field."
--Field Level Media
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