NFL’s new Oakley face shields designed to prevent spread of coronavirus

Technology |  2 min. read

(Photo Credit: Oakley via AP)

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the NFL is putting its money where the mouth is.

All 32 NFL teams received new face shields designed by Oakley to protect players amid the global pandemic.

The Oakley Mouth Shield attaches to the face guard of a helmet to act as a preventative shield against saliva-related transmissions. Openings in the mouth shield enable breathability without allowing direct transmission of droplets, according to Dr. Jeff Crandall, chair of the NFL’s engineering committee.

Oakley, of course, is famous for its sunglasses and ski goggles that aim to combine visual clarity with durability. The popular brand’s NFL face shield is no different and is made from its proprietary PRIZM lenses. The material in these lenses are made from Plutonite, a high-grade polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is also used to produce shatterproof windows, packaging, roofing sheets, injection mouldings and much more. Polycarbonate is a transparent, impact-resistant polymer made from petrochemical-based bisphenol A, which is used in a wide variety of the plastic products, from household appliance parts to electronic devices, compact discs, automotive applications and food and drink containers. The versatile bisphenol A starts with the petrochemical building blocks propylene and benzene through a process that makes acetone and phenol, the two integral substances that make the bisphenol A.

The NFL hopes the transparency, strength, flexibility and breathability of its new Oakley face shields won’t impact player performance while serving to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Question is, will players want to wear them? According to ESPN, negotiations over safety protocols are ongoing. While the NFL’s medical experts are advocating for the face shields, some players are skeptical. Houston Texans star defensive lineman J.J. Watt came out against the face shields, saying one he tried in the past affected ability to breathe, ESPN reported.

The NFL hopes Watt will have a different experience with the Oakley Mouth Shield, as it was designed with player feedback, according to the Dr. Crandall. For example, the design was enhanced after quarterbacks who tested them complained the sound was too muffled when they called out plays, according to ESPN.

“The player feedback was integral in coming up with this design,” Dr. Crandall said in an Associated Press report. “They (Oakley) would start with this design and say: ‘Do you like this one better or this one? How’s your field of view on this one?’

Whether or not they’re a hit among players, they’re one tool that has helped prevent America’s hardest-hitting sport from having to cancel its 2020 season.

(Photo Credit: Oakley via AP)