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NFL COVID-19 plans: How the league intends to prevent the spread of coronavirus amid close-contact games in season 2020

Large figures of NFL helmets are displayed during the NFL Draft 2016 events in Chicago. | Photo credit: swimfinfan from Chicago / Wikimedia Commons with Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0 (

A new helmet designed with COVID-19 in mind has emerged online and could become the recommended gear for NFL players. One of its unique features is a plastic shield on the mouth area in the hopes that it would help prevent the spread of coronavirus during close-contact games.

NFL players to get a new anti-coronavirus helmet?

The upcoming season of NFL is going to be an extremely unique experience for clubs, officials, and fans as the sports league is set out to hold games in the middle of a pandemic. Because football games cannot be played while avoiding physical contact, league officials are looking for ways to minimize the risk of virus spread.

As a result, the NFL is reportedly trying out a new helmet from Oakley that features a plastic-made mouth shield. It is placed below the plastic visor and has small pill-shaped holes in it. The logic behind the design is easy to understand, especially when one understands how COVID-19 is spread.

One of the known common ways the virus is spread is through respiratory secretion droplets. “These are released from the mouth or nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, for example,” the World Health Organization says. It means people are at risk of contracting the virus when they come in contact with someone infected with the virus or touch a surface where said respiratory droplets may have landed.

That explains why the top recommendations to prevent transmission is by maintaining physical distancing, wearing face masks, and frequent washing of hands with soap. Since these are hard to maintain during football games that usually last for more than three hours, the NFL has to be more creative in protecting the players and others on the field. The said Oakley helmet is one of the possible solutions.

NFL players aren’t excited about a helmet with mouth shields?

The type of helmets recommended by the NFL can be quite controversial, so the question now is if players would agree to wear these newly designed gears while the risk of COVID-19 transmissions is still high. Reports suggest several players are already against it.

ESPN’s Tim McManus reported that the Oakley helmets with mouth shields will be distributed to all 32 clubs for testing, and Los Angeles teams Rams and Chargers already received it. The same report mentioned several players already concerned at how these face shields might negatively affect their vision on the field.

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