The NFL Players Association's medical director on Monday said the NFL and equipment company Oakley are working on developing a facemask that contains surgical or N95 material in an effort to better protect players from the coronavirus when they return to the playing field.
During an appearance on "The Adam Schefter Podcast," Thom Mayer said a recommendation probably will be made to the NFL that the league use the revised facemasks.
Mayer said the new designs could see the entire facemask covered by the new protective material.
"Back in early March, I had suggested that we should consider novel and emerging ways to handle the helmets and the facemasks and the spread of the virus," Mayer said.
"And 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."
As for the look and design, Mayer said he is still not sure which direction the design will ultimately go.
"They've got some prototypes; they're doing really good work," he said.
"Some of them, when you first look at them, you think, 'Gosh, no' -- 'cause you're not used to seeing it; you're just not used to seeing it. But they're looking at every issue you can imagine, including when it fogs up. What do we do with that? But these guys are used to dealing with this stuff."
All team facilities were ordered shut down as of March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NFL will allow facilities to be reopened on Tuesday by teams that are permitted to do so under state and local regulations, but only for specific personnel.
Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined the rules governing the reopening -- what the NFL is calling "Phase 1" of a return to football activities -- in memo to team executives and general managers May 6.
Among the restrictions: Teams can have only 50 percent of their staff in the facility at a time and no more than 75 people. Players are prohibited from team facilities unless they are undergoing treatment or rehabilitation. And no coaching staffs are allowed at team facilities during Phase 1.
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