The NFL is doing everything it can to ensure that that there is football in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including working on the possibility of having their players wear some version of masks on the field while playing.
"They've got some prototypes. They're doing really good work," Mayer said to ESPN. "Some of them, when you first look at them, you think, 'Gosh, no' 'cause you're not used to seeing it. You're just not used to seeing it. But they're looking at every issue you can imagine, including when it fogs up. What do we do with that? But these guys are used to dealing with this stuff.”
In addition to the potential of wearing facemasks while playing, it sounds like players could be be wearing masks and practicing social distancing on the sideline.
"For a player like that,” Mayer said, “getting the helmet off, putting a mask on right afterwards, maintaining social distancing when not in the field as much as possible, using single-use hydration -- whether water, Gatorade, whatever it might be -- I mean, just every little detail.”
While there have been no photos released of the prototypes, and no decisions have been made, the idea of players wearing masks while on the field and social-distancing on the sideline is certainly interesting and raises plenty of questions. On the field, communicating prior to the snap might be difficult with some variation of a N-95 facemask attached to your helmet. On the sideline, coaches and their position group always huddle up to discuss the next series. Doing that while practicing social distancing would seem to be almost impossible.
Of course, these are just ideas for now, and nothing has been decided. Plenty could change between now and when football returns. The NFL is the only sports league so far to not have their games impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have had to cancel OTAs and minicamps, and almost all team personnel have been working at home since March. Some facilities around the league have started to open back up this week, however, as state-by-state the stay-at-home restrictions begin to either change or be lifted.
With training camps set to start around the league in late July, the time for the NFL to make a decision on what they will do in terms of training camp, games and fans in the stands is inching closer-and-closer.
Speaking to reporters last week, Eagles center Jason Kelce was asked about the potential of having to be in a locker room with 90 players come training camp in August. The center said he trusted the NFL to make the right decision, and would follow whatever the league decided.
“It is hard to say with the 90 guys in the locker room. It is hard to say on a season. I’ll feel comfortable no matter what the NFL decides to do, to be honest with you. I believe that at the end of the day if the NFL is allowing 90 guys in a locker room it is going to be in a safe and controlled environment, in my opinion,” Kelce said. “I don't think this is going to happen unless that is doable. So whether that is testing guys before they come into the building and the testing procedures improve, whether that's statistically, new cases are so low at that point that there's not a big threat of 90 guys going into a locker room. I think there's a multiplicity of different factors and things that can shake out over the next few months, especially before the season. I don't think we'll be back at work next to each other, and I don’t think we'll be back at work playing and doing games and stuff like that unless the NFL is fully confident that it can be done in a safe manner. So I’ll feel comfortable the moment they give the green light.”