NFL officials are likely going to give "facemask" a new meaning in 2020. NFLRA executive director Scott Green told Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network that officials are expected to wear some kind of face coverings and gloves for the 2020 season to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. The average age of an NFL official is 53, and Pelissero notes that some are in the higher-risk category for the coronavirus.
Officials are in close contact with both players and coaches in the midst of a given game, and Green noted that testing is still something that also needs to be more firmly addressed. They are looking to get tested twice a week (once in their home city and once in the game city). Opt-outs are also being negotiated, per Pelissero.
Along with face coverings and gloves, officials may also implement the use of handheld electronic whistles, which does make sense when you consider the number of times an official puts a traditional whistle in their mouth and blows in it over the course of a game. Electronic whistles, in theory, do seem like a logical solution to help curb the potential spread of the virus. The practice of such a change, if the sound is at all different, will likely require a bit of a learning curve, however.
In a memo sent to the NFL by the NFLPA earlier last week that highlights some recommendations for the start of training camp and the preseason, they will encourage the use of face shields for players during camp. The NFLPA recommended a re-evaluation following field tests and player feedback prior to the regular season, but there's a chance that even players may look a bit different on the field in 2020 as well.