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NFL trying to make changes to facemasks to protect players

The NFL and NFLPA are looking at options for adjusting helmets to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A general view of a New York Jets helmet before a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The NFL is working on plans for the coming season amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and now it could involve an equipment change. NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the NFL is working with Oakley to test protoypes of modified facemasks that could contain surgical or N95 material.

The league and players association are discussing the many issues in play for a contact sport like football. Mayer said Oakley is looking at designs that could potentially cover a player’s entire facemask.

There is concern about transfer off the field as well, and Mayer emphasized the importance of higher risk players paying attention to details.

“For a player like that, getting the helmet off, putting a mask on right afterwards, maintaining social distancing when not in the field as much as possible, using single-use hydration, whether water, Gatorade, whatever it might be — I mean, just every little detail,” he said.

The bigger concern for the time being is ensuring there’s enough testing to avoid having Covid-19 positive players on the field in the first place. It’s useful to consider other plans as well, but a change to the helmets does not seem like the kind of thing that is the first, primary plan of attack for preventing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.