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Full-Face Visor Breaks New Ground in Pandemic Football Era

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After a brief Twitter leak on Wednesday, which was then taken taken down, the helmet manufacturer Schutt yesterday officially announced a new product called the Splash Shield, which according to a press release “will offer some protection for football players from harmful droplets caused by talking, sneezing, and coughing in close proximity.” I believe this product, which Schutt says will be available to ship by July 1, is the first new piece of sports equipment — or at least the first one that I’m aware of — directly related to the pandemic, although I’m sure it won’t be the last.

The development of this type of product has been hinted at for a few weeks now. Back on May 18, NFL Players Association medical director Thom Mayer said that when the NFL returned to action, it was reasonable to expect that players might have to wear some sort of mask that “could cover a player’s entire face,” which is essentially what the Splash Shield does.

Schutt is being careful not to overpromise here. The term “some protection” — not exactly a hyperbolic claim — appears twice in the press release, including in this sentence: “While the Splash Shield will offer some protection, it can only limit exposure to airborne droplets that the athlete encounters during play.” In other words, it’s not like wearing an N95, but it’s probably better than nothing.

The press release isn’t long on details, but I followed up with Schutt and can tell you the following:

• The Splash Shield comes in two separate pieces — one for the upper part of the facemask, like the standard visor that we’re used to seeing, and one for the lower part (click to enlarge):

If a player already has a standard visor, he can just use the lower portion of the Splash Shield.

• The splash shield is thinner and more flexible than a standard visor, and also has slots in various locations. Schutt says this allows it to fit virtually any mask on any helmet — not just Schutt helmets.

• The product can be washed and used again, although the press release also notes that it’s “inexpensive enough to be disposable.”

• Speaking of which: The product will be priced at $14.99 for the three-pack of uppers or lowers, or $24.99 for a three-pack for both pieces.

I suspect we’ll see other products like this soon. After the Schutt announcement yesterday, I asked Riddell if they had a similar product in the works. They said they’d get back to me but didn’t have a statement ready by the end of the day. I’ll post a follow-up if I hear back from them.

Either way, it seems likely that this type of product — whether made by Schutt, Riddell, Oakley, or whomever — will soon be standard, or even required, on the football field, at least until there’s a vaccine.

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Membership update: A few of the orders we received on Purple Amnesty Day were, thankfully, purple-free! That includes Erik Vogeler’s card, which is based on the Fresno Tacos — a good choice!

Erik’s design is one of several that have been added to the membership card gallery, as we contue to plug away at the big backlog of orders. Thanks for all your support!

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,800 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: The Athletic has a good story (paywalled) about the MLBPA “barnstorm tour” that almost came to be in 1995, should the strike have gone on longer. It even includes pictures of the uniforms that would’ve been used (from Michael Romero).

Football News: Here’s a cool article and video on Paper Stadiums’ Candlestick Park model. Paper Stadiums makes models of ballparks and stadiums out of paper products, and hand-draws each details (thanks, Brinke). … Here’s some footage of Pitt practicing the day before the 1976 Sugar Bowl in all-white helmets. “Was this common in the ’70s?” asks Jon Garber.

Hockey News: In this hugely entertaining 1985 video of Devils G Chico Resch freaking out on the refs, Resch is wearing a blue blocker and pad. He had previously played for the Islanders and Devils forerunners the Colorado Rockies, but 1985 was Resch’s third season with the Devils. Why would he still have blue gear? Hmmm (from Frank Mercogliano). 

Soccer News: More George Floyd protests from the soccer world: Players on the Turkish team Beşiktaş formed a “GF” during training yesterday, and winger Tokmac Nguen of Hungarian side Ferencváros received a written reprimand from the Hungarian Football Federation for revealing a “Justice for George Floyd” T-shirt during a match (both from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Bundesliga team SC Freiburg will wear a one-off shirt today against Borussia Mönchengladbach (from Josh Hinton). … New outfitter for German second division side Arminia Bielefeld, which is moving from Joma to Macron (from Ed Żelaski). … Premier League side Bournemouth has ended its advertising deal with Asian bookmaker M88 and will complete its season without a primary shirt advertiser (from @TexasTrevor).

Grab Bag: Disturbing article about how some law enforcement officers in DC have been wearing uniforms that don’t designate their identity or even their agency affiliation (WaPo link) (from Jerry Wolper). … The new Major League Rugby expansion franchise in Dallas will be called the Jackals. The team also revealed its logo (from Sy Hart and Evan Stewart). … Also from Sy: The Southwestern Athletic Conference debuted an updated logo in a graphic announcing the addition of Florida A&M to the conference. … The University of Tennessee has sued a Knoxville-based bail bond company for poaching the school’s “Power T” logo (from James Gilbert). … Police officers in New York are being accused of covering their badge numbers while covering the ongoing George Floyd protests, which is a breach of uniform rules (from Timmy Donahue). … Fun fact: During the 1970 season, Grand Prix drivers Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, and Piers Courage wore helicopter pilots’ helmets instead of standard auto racing helmets (from David Firestone).

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What Paul did last night: Around the corner from us, and then around the next corner, there’s a food pantry that offers free provisions on Fridays. Due to the pandemic and the resulting shutdown, business there has been booming. So many people now show up each Friday that the line routinely stretches down the very long block that the pantry is on, then around the corner, down the next block, around the next corner, and up our block, right past our house. It’s powerful and horrible and humbling.

The pantry sometimes sends out volunteers to help maintain social distancing among the people standing in line, but this week they’ve apparently decided to try something different. When we went out for Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ yesterday evening, we saw that signs had been placed on many of the trees on our side of the street — you can see one on the tree in front of the Tugboat Captain. Here’s a closer look:

Hmmmm. For starters, there are no white/red lines on the sidewalk, and I’m fairly certain no such lines will be added by 10:30am, when the queue usually starts to form. Also, it’s odd that the design shows a doctor and a nurse. Looks like someone went online and found any old social distancing flier, not noticing or caring that it’s apparently for a medical office.

Anyway, it was a very nice time on the porch yesterday. Our neighbor Jason stopped by, and so did our UPS guy, Ricky, plus we met a few new dogs, including one named Wolfie! Sorry, no photos of the pooches.

The branch is still there.

As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now a whopping 80 of them — here.

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Raffle results: The winner of the June pin is Greg Morrison. Congrats to him, and big thanks to Diego Bauzá for sponsoring this one.

Happy birthday to our own Jamie Rathjen, who compiles the Tickers that appear on Mondays. Enjoy your special day as best you can, buddy!

This was a really hard week for me, and I’m sure for many of you. Take care, stay safe, enjoy Phil’s weekend content, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. — Paul

Comments (34)

    Paul, I know you hear this a lot, but I just want to reiterate how comforting it is to have UniWatch every day. These are really stressful times, and anything that reminds us of normalcy provides comfort. Thank you so much!

    Not sure where a mouthpiece would attach with the Schutt “sneeze guards”. ?? Also, how are they going to spit properly? ;^)

    No spitting! It spreads germs, and I’ve somehow managed to last 58 years without spitting.

    Are the velcro strips going to be used in games? If so, I wonder if they will stand up to all the contact. They definitely remind me of Sean Taylor and I also wonder if teams will try and color match the velcro to the facemask.


    It looks like Pitt is wearing Tulane’s practice uniforms, at least most players are. I saw at least one player in a Pitt yellow helmet. There was one player wearing a blue/green helmet. And the jerseys looked like they were Tulane’s colors. I don’t know what to call that color. Blue, green…


    I want to echo what Lou said, I can’t tell you the sense of relief and what a welcome diversion the lede was today. Just that sense of normalcy is great. I always appreciated your work, but more and more so as this goes on. The Porch pictures are now a daily comfort for me to see, as odd as that is.

    On a different note I live in Arlington Virginia, across the river from DC. The night the President gassed the peaceful protesters our county pulled our county from DC (we have a reciprocal support agreement with them for large crowds/special events etc). Anyway, since that night the military force around the ever expanding White House perimeter has been entirely without identifying marking or names. It’s charring and terrifying and I wish it was getting more notice. I know you posted the link because of the odd uniform element, but I appreciate you just helping to spread the word a little. The folks who live in DC without home rule are experiencing a military state right now, and the nation doesn’t appear to be aware.

    Sorry to diverge to that. I really just meant to say thanks. You’re great. Stay safe and sane good Sir!

    My sister-in-law also lives in Arlington and works at the State Department in DC, although she’s been WFH for almost 3 months. She really wants to go back to Iraq where, ironically, she feels safer.

    I echo others statements about Uni Watch being a respite from this crazy world lately. I only follow the news tangentially and have no social media presence so I appreciate coming here and reading about some of my favorite things, even if sports are on hold. Thanks for keeping us entertained Paul.

    The link is disturbing. Not only for the covered badge number, but also the “Blue Lives Matter” facemask. That doesn’t look like someone who is particularly interested in de-escalating any situation.

    I remember some cops covering their shields and name plates with tin foil during the 1977 blackout/looting spree and a few just took them off completely. It was a sign that you might want to head indoors.

    I love that the NHL used to have actual people sequestered in tiny booths, with not great angles to see the goal line, to call goals. And they had to walk through the crowd to get in and out of their booths. It’s so primitive, especially by today’s replay standards. I’d bring them back just for a ceremonial role.

    I wonder how much testing went into developing those football face shields. It seems like like would fog up pretty badly. It would be interesting to hear how they handle that situation. Is there a coating on the glass? Is it ventilated somehow? Would ventilation defeat the purpose of wearing the mask in the first place?

    Do you honestly think they’d put this out on the market without having wear-tested it? Seriously?

    It’s not a sealed fit. There’s no more reason for this product to fog up than for a standard visor to fog up. And anti-fogging technology exists.

    Fogging was the first thing that I thought of, too. I know that growing up playing hockey in the 90’s and 2000’s when full plastic face shields became popular, fogging used to be a big problem. There was an anti-fog spray that I used to apply to my shield every now and then, but it didn’t do much. I got pretty used to lifting my face shield and wiping it down a few times per period.

    Hopefully face shield technology has advanced some since then.

    Actually, I didn’t say I don’t think they tested it. I just said I wonder what the testing process was, and I thought it would be interesting to hear about.

    Sigh. That is plainly false, Justin. Why would you try to rewrite your own words that are visible for all to see at the top of this thread?

    What you actually said was, “I wonder how much testing went into developing those football face shields” (i.e, you questioned the *extent* or *amount* of the testing, not the “process”), and then your next sentence implied that the amount of testing may have been insufficient.

    Let’s please move on. Thanks.

    What keeps motorcycle helmet faceshields from fogging?
    Maybe these have the same thing (though a fogged motorcycle visor is a tad more important that a sports helmet).

    Motorcycle face shield fogging is a problem. It is all about getting airflow. Some helmets are better than others. Full face helmets do experience levels of fogging. Anti fogging sprays don’t work. There is a lot more airflow in football helmets. I think it would somewhat depend on the weather conditions that teams were playing in. My motorcycle helmet only fogs when it is cold and/or raining. Never have a problem in decent weather.

    Resch and blue blocker. I don’t really remember goalies changing to match the new team and Chico was his own man when it came to gear. He still broadcasts for New Jersey so you could ask him

    Chico was one of the earliest goalies to start wearing the combo mask. He wore the fiberglass and cage combo mask while still playing with the Rockies.

    I experienced the Chico freak out in real time while watching that game low these many years ago. Never noticed the blue blocker before. Shame on me!

    I have noticed faceshields advertised for lacrosse helmets as well. Not sure if they will be mandatory.

    A possibility we might see this when NHL resumes their playoffs. Players in clear full face shield with this type of underneath plastic along the jaw area of the mask.

    Will it require someone to remove the branch for the “branch update” to be non-existent?

    As a former highway department worker, a singular branch is nowhere close to being a concern — unless it’s in the street, an issue with driving, etc. A single branch hanging off the side of the road is a non-issue.

    So many more concerns for the groups that will remove it. I would also imagine, in the current state of affairs, a singular branch means nothing. There’s branches hanging on nearly every tree. If someone really wants it taken care of, call a tree trimming company and they’ll remove it for $200 (just a guess).

    Paul is not complaining about the branch. Rather, he is simply observing its continued presence and marveling at its resiliency.

    I wonder what effect the face shields will have on face mask penalties. Will they decrease?? Also, I don’t recall ever seeing visors pop out on the field, so I guess these are secure enough so that they don’t pop out. I’m just envisioning an official’s time out so that a player can reattach his CovidShield

    RE: Splash Shield Fogging. The instructions posted on the linked page for the Splash Shields note “To provide short-term anti-fogging, apply a drop of dish soap to inside of shield and spread evenly.” Reading that… how quickly will Procter & Gamble push for Dawn to become the official dish soap AND face shield fog-prevention liquid of the NFL?

    Regarding white helmets, I played DI football in college during the early to mid 80’s and we always practiced with white practice helmets sans decals. Although by the end of my playing days, most of the helmets had logos and stripes on them but they were extremely damaged. We wore separate “new” helmets for games. Not sure that is the reason Pitt’s helmets are white though.

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