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NFL Insider Shares 'Expectation' For Player Face Shields

Houston Texans star JJ Watt during an NFL game against the Raiders.

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans reacts after batting down a pass in the first half against the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

One of the pieces of technology the NFL has worked on ahead of the 2020 season is a face shield, which can be installed on helmets. Some prominent players have tested them out, and the results have been mixed.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the league's biggest stars, isn't a huge fan. During an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, Wilson told guest host Joel McHale that it would be "crazy" if the league mandated wearing the shields. He said he had been working out with one to try and get used to it. He also acknowledged the league's need to do everything it can to make the sport as safe as possible.

Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt was even more forceful in his opinion about the face shields. "So now you’re going to put something around my mouth? You can keep that," he told ProFootballTalk, comparing it negatively to the visors that many players wear, which he had a bad experience with. "If that comes into play, I don’t think you’re gonna see me on the field.”

The face shield may help prevent the spread, if a player unknowingly carrying the virus does play in a game. The NFL can't move forward without the buy-in of the star players though, so it will only recommend, but not require, that players wear them. From NFL Network's Mike Garafolo:

The league reportedly wanted to make the face shields mandatory, according to ProFootballTalk. As the league works through some concerns with the NFLPA ahead of the season, it has apparently conceded here.

Among the other big changes for the 2020 season: the owners have agreed to get rid of the preseason entirely. That's a big win for the players, who have been pushing for reductions to those games for a long time.

The NFL is set to start its season on time in September, though it has designed its schedule to be flexible, with early games able to be rescheduled to the end of the year if need be. Hopefully they manage to add more safety precautions as we move forward, though it seems impossible for this to be totally foolproof.