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Could J.J. Watt Opt Out Of The 2020 Season If Face Shields Are Required?

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The Houston Texans star has little desire to play under a proposed COVID visor initiative.

Dallas Cowboys v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Amidst all the other COVID-19 craziness going on right now, the NFL has reportedly proposed making every player wear a helmet bolstered with a face shield, presumably to prevent a player from coughing/sneezing/spitting or otherwise getting breath droplets that carry COVID-19 on other players. On the surface it makes sense, but there’s a lot of debate on about the potential oxygen inhibition potentially created by masks that are mandated all over the land. Surely if oxygen may not pass through a cotton mask as easily as it should, passing through a plexiglass face shield could prevent problems.

That’s where the greatest defensive player in Houston history takes umbrage with the whole idea. Pro Football Talk has the following quote from J.J. Watt in this story:

“My second year in the league I thought it’d be cool, I put a visor on my helmet. I was like, ‘It looks so cool, I wanna put a visor on.’ I had it on for about three periods of practice and I said, ‘Take this sucker off I’m gonna die out here.’ … So now you’re gonna put something around my mouth? You can keep that. If that comes into play, I don’t think you’re gonna see me on the field.”

According to PFT, “The league wants players to wear, basically, an extension of the visor that many players currently wear, with the rest of the inside of the face mask covered by a plastic barrier.”

In a game with a lot of really big men sucking up all the oxygen they can get, it’s easy to see how this could lead to fatigue, affect a player’s endurance over the 60 minutes of game time, and potentially bring about secondary effects of insufficient oxygen intake.

It’s not unusual to see players huffing and puffing after exerting themselves on the playing field; that’s one of the reasons there are oxygen tanks on the sidelines of every NFL game. If the NFL does mandate a face shield requirement, would that lead to players having to leave the field far more often to take a turn on the tank? It’s all theoretical at the moment, but you can bet this and other proposed safety measures (including a ban on jersey swapping) will certainly create more unease among players the closer we get to Kickoff 2020.

What do you think? We’ve discussed whether you would feel safe to attend a Texans game and what it would take to get you to that place, but what about the players?