The NFL is bringing back tinted helmet visors league-wide for the first time since 1998, although they won’t look as intimidating as they did in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The league’s new sponsorship deal with Oakley will allow players to wear a slightly pink-tinted shield that improves players’ vision, as reported by Sports Illustrated’s Jonathan Jones.
Players will still have to wear corrective lenses in addition to the visors to keep their vision up to par, but the new Prizm lens heightens the contrast between colors.
“Prizm is a light-management technology. We can filter light in a way to leverage your natural visual acuity,” Wayne Chumbley, Oakley's head of the Vision Performance Lab, said. “So we see colors—red, green and blue—naturally. If you can heighten your sensitivity in areas, it can create a lot of color contrast which creates a better depth perception scenario for you. So with Prizm clear, what we’re doing is we’re eliminating areas of color confusion.”
New visors are an improvement on the past
The NFL previously instituted its tinted visor ban to make sure coaches and athletic trainers could see players' eyes without having to remove their helmet.
The league granted some medical exceptions — notably to running backs Ricky Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson — but those visors were far less practical than these new ones. Even then, the NFL’s VP of business development Nana-Yaw Asamoah said that only 14 players were granted an exception last season.
Players first got an opportunity to try out the new visors during the Pro Bowl with a full rollout coming this preseason. Players from across the spectrum from budding stars (Myles Garrett) to top draft picks (Kyler Murray) to those in between (Carolina Panthers receiver Curtis Samuel) have seen their benefits lately.
“Just going from a regular visor that we had before to this visor, I know definitely preseason playing night games it’s much better,” Samuel said. “It dims the lights a little bit. It allows you to have a better opportunity to track the ball down. It just feels better overall. It’s clearer to look out of.”
New sponsorship deal means more money for NFL
While the NFL has been slow to put ads on teams’ fields and uniforms, leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table, Oakley will get rare access with their new four-year deal.
Each NFL field already has the Oakley logo plastered on it, while helmets also sport the Oakley O. As Jones noted in his piece, the NFL only has three logos from the chest up on uniforms: The NFL shield on the chest, the Nike swoosh on the sleeve and now this.
Of course, the NFL likely wants players to have a good playing experience, but this is also an easy opportunity to make a few millions at the same time.
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