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NFL looking into modified face masks to prevent spread of COVID-19

Oct 6, 2019; London, United Kingdom; General overall view of the NFL shield logo at midfield during an NFL International Series game between the Oakland Raiders and the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Bears 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some NFL teams are reopening their facilities on Tuesday at the direction of the league. It’s been well over two months since facilities shut down in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first step in a process that will hopefully lead to the 2020 season starting on time on Sept. 10.

Though, there’s a lot more steps that need to be taken. That includes keeping players safe, regardless of whether fans are on hand this coming fall.

According to NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, this also includes the production of N95-like face masks for players.

“These modified face masks, which may include some form of either surgical or N95-like material in it, for a player…getting the helmet off, putting the mask right on afterwards, maintaining social distancing when not on the field as much as possible, using single-use hydration whether it be water or Gatorade. Just every little detail anybody who’s got a risk, I’d advise them to be zealous, religious, and frankly maniacally committed to minimizing the chance of spreading the virus,” Mayer said, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The league will undoubtedly instill some form of protection for players upon returning, and that likely won’t end with upgraded face masks to wear on the field and along the sidelines. Viewers should continue to prepare for a very unique season.”

The ability to contract with a company to mass produce these will loom large in the season potentially starting on time.

It’s not necessarily going to be much different than MLB should that season resume some time in July. There’s still going to be social distancing when not on the field. That includes six feet of distancing in the dug out.

As it relates to the NFL, players will need to be able to protect themselves from the potential spread of the virus if the season is not going to be delayed or suspended midstream. Getting going on that process right now makes sense.