NFL engineers are working alongside sports equipment company Oakley to test prototypes of facemasks that would limit the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 on the football field this season.
Dr. Thom Mayer, medical director of the NFL players association, told ESPN on Monday that the league expects there to be a "recommendation" that it use facemasks with N95 or surgical mask material if and when the sport returns in 2020.
"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," Dr. Mayer said on The Adam Schefter Podcast.
"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."
Mayer admitted that the prototypes initially prompted him to think, "Gosh, no," because they look so different from the typical NFL facemask. The new design could end up covering the entire facemask, one of many changes the league is expected to instill in order to host a full season amid the ongoing global pandemic.
"If we get people in camp at the club facilities and the virus begins to propagate quickly, we're probably close to game over because of the spread of the virus," Mayer said.
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