The majority of the football world got its first glimpse of a new mouth shield developed by Oakley on Monday. The shield was designed to help protect players from the COVID-19 pandemic while they’re on the field.
A first look at the Oakley Mouth Shield, which is being shipped out to NFL teams this week in hopes of protecting players from COVID-19. https://t.co/ubrwi6iOfr— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) July 13, 2020
According to ESPN, there is currently no mandate for players to wear the protective shield, however the NFL’s medical experts are advocating its use.
The shields have already been distributed to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers for feedback, according to the ESPN report. That report mentions the two biggest concerns about the shields so far are visibility and breathability.
Most importantly, the NFL's engineering committee Dr. Jeff Crandall told ESPN that the shields prevent direct transmission of droplets from players’ mouths.
Per the report, Oakley tested the shields by spraying fluid particles to mimic droplets expelled by players.
"I don't know that there's a direct percentage that anyone's come up with because a laboratory is not the on-field environment, obviously," Crandall told ESPN. "There's lots of things that players do on the fields that they're not easily replicating [in] the laboratory, but it is a significant blockage to transmission of droplets. There is no straight pathway through the face shield or visor for a droplet to be transmitted."
While Oakley is the official supplier of the shields for the NFL, the report mentions that players may end up other brands that are developing similar products.
"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," Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told ESPN. "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."