The Oakley Mouth Shield was unveiled Monday as an addition for NFL helmets in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the 2020 season.
According to Tim McManus of ESPN, the NFL is expected to distribute the shields to all 32 teams this week for testing and the league's medical experts are advocating for their use, although there is currently no mandate for players to use them.
"That's certainly what we're going to encourage," NFL's chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said of the shields. "And we hope that we're going to land on a product design that's something that everyone would want to wear, because they'll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance."
Players reportedly don't want a mandate to wear the shields, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Houston Texans star J.J. Watt also spoke out against wearing any kind of shield, via Florio:
"My second year in the league I thought it'd be cool, I put a visor on my helmet. I was like, 'It looks so cool, I wanna put a visor on.' I had it on for about three periods of practice and I said, 'Take this sucker off I'm gonna die out here.' ...So now you're gonna put something around my mouth? You can keep that. If that comes into play, I don't think you're gonna see me on the field."
Several players throughout the league have already been given the mask and will provide feedback after testing it.
According to Dr. Jeff Crandall, chair of the NFL's engineering committee, internal testing of the Oakley masks has seen "a significant blockage to transmission of droplets."
The coronavirus has already caused over 130,000 deaths in the United States while cases continue to rise, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The NFL is still planning to go forward with its usual regular-season schedule beginning in September, with players set to report to training camp later this month.