Throughout the last few weeks, Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has been one of the most vocal players. Watt has been among those voicing significant concerns over the safety protocols the NFL has in place ahead of the 2020 season that is less than two months away.
That included him even voicing that could potentially sit out the upcoming campaign, but that led to the NFL to finally make a massive change.
J.J. Watt refused to wear face shield
Throughout the last several months, the NFL has remained optimistic about getting the 2020 season started without a hitch.
Things expectedly shifted due to concerns over the coronavirus leading the NFL to consider alternative methods to combat the situation. One involved the potential use of the plastic face shields in the player’s helmet to which J.J. Watt made it clear that he has no desire to wear, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
“My second year in the league I thought it’d be cool, I put a visor on my helmet,” Watt said. “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.”
Watt’s stance isn’t on shaky ground as his reasoning comes down to his physical conditioning on the field. It’s something that previously hampered him from normal breathing when he’s on the football field. Many other players likely share that same sentiment toward the option.
These strong comments from the three-time Defensive Player of the Year have led to the league to make one drastic decision on direct correlation to that.
NFL listens to J.J. Watt’s request
Following J.J. Watt’s comments regarding the matter, many other players have voiced their concerns about the safety ahead of the 2020 season.
The NFL has moved toward making the necessary adjustments to dissipate the doubts from their players best. Among those has seen the league make the face shield an optional headgear attachment that isn’t required to wear, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.
Although the NFL wants all of their players to wear the face shields, it’s clear that the NFLPA has taken Watt’s stance into substantial consideration. The intentions may be in the right place from the league, but it’s something that not all players are comfortable with wearing on the field.
Beyond that, it further underlines that Watt has a strong influence on the league’s plans.
Still more needs to be done
It isn’t just J.J. Watt that is forcing the NFL to make the necessary adjustments with their safety protocols, but many other of the league’s biggest stars.
They are taking the significant risk of playing football when there is still no full control of the virus or even a vaccine. It remains a tough time around the country, and the league must continue to listen to the players’ concerns to put forth a coherent safety system that has their best health interest in mind.
There has been progress made in the recent discussions with an agreement reached for training camp to begin, but there are plenty more things to get tackled ahead.