(The Advocate) - When the NFL sends its players back onto the field for the 2020 season, there's a chance those players could be carrying a helmet specifically designed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NFL Player's Association Medical Director Thom Mayer spoke on Adam Schefter's podcast and discussed the development of prototypes that include some form of surgical or N95 mask material to help limit the virus' spread on-field.
"They’re doing really good work. Some of them, when you first look at them you would think, ‘gosh’ because you’re not used to seeing it," Mayer said.
The prototypes are being developed by Oakley, the company already under contract to create the visors used by NFL players.
"They’re looking at every issue you can imagine out of them, including when it fogs up, what do we do with that," he said. "These guys are used to dealing with this stuff."
Mayer added that it's still unclear what, if any, modifications to NFL helmets might look like, but it's possible the entire facemask could be covered with some kind of material.
He said he first put out the idea in March that "new and emerging" ways to handle the mitigation of coronavirus transmission be considered. Those plans would also include social distancing, he said.
"Getting the helmet off, putting a mask on right afterwards, maintaining social distancing when not on the field as much as possible, using single-use hydration – whether water, Gatorade, whatever it might be," will all be vital aspects, Mayer said, for an NFL return to action.
"Just every little detail for anybody who’s got a risk, I would advise them to be zealous, religious and frankly almost maniacally committed to minimizing the chance of spreading the virus," he said.
The Saints have seen the impact of the virus first-hand, with coach Sean Payton announcing in March he had contracted it and was under quarantine. He was declared recovered from the virus by doctors on March 24.
Erica Carr, the wife of Saints wide receiver Austin Carr, was diagnosed with the virus after going into labor in April.
Louisiana has reported 35,038 cases and 2,458 deaths statewide.
The NFL announced its 2020 schedules on May 7, with the first week of its preseason slate kicking off on Aug. 6. The Saints' first preseason game is scheduled on Aug. 23, on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Copyright 2020 The Advocate. All rights reserved.