NFL, NFLPA Reportedly Undecided on Making Face Shields Mandatory During Pandemic

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2020

San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick wears a helmet with a tinted visor during NFL football training camp Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The NFL and its players association reportedly haven't reached an agreement about whether to make face shields mandatory for the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Saturday the league "wants" face shields required but the union prefers to request players test them during training camp before making a final decision.

In May, NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer told ESPN's Adam Schefter the league's engineers had teamed up with sports equipment company Oakley to design and test protective face coverings featuring surgical or N95 material that could be used by players.

"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," 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."

It remains unclear whether the NFL is pushing for those masks to become mandatory or whether it'd accept an extension of the visors players already use, per Florio.

So far, the NFL has moved forward with plans to open training camp July 28 despite a recent surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

The Hall of Fame Game, which was slated for Aug. 6 to kick off the preseason, has been canceled. Few concrete updates have been provided beyond that, though.

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ESPN's Kevin Seifert reported Wednesday the league is planning to reduce the exhibition schedule from four games to two. The NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero added members of the union are in favor of playing no games before the regular season gets underway.

Week 1 of the regular season is planned for Sept. 10 through Sept. 14.

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