Last night, as the Texans and Chiefs kicked off the NFL season, one of the things I, and many other coaches, had an eye on before play even started was the mask choice of each of the team's head coaches.
Texans head coach Bill O'Brien opted for the simple cloth facial covering with ear loops. Andy Reid went a different route with a clear plastic shield that seemingly attached to the bill of his hat.
In the COVID era, choices between those two options (and an array of others) are one of the thousands of decisions head coaches will have to make during game day, and each one has its advantages.
The cloth mask is likely what most guys, including O'Brien, are most comfortable with because it's their everyday option. However, since it's covering your mouth, your facial expressions are largely concealed, and during a game a lot of our communications come from nonverbal cues. The neck gaitor style masks seem to be the most comfortable and breathable option for a lot of guys, but present a lot of the same hurdles as the cloth masks.
That's where that clear plastic face shield comes in. Not only does it allow players to see your nonverbal communication cues, but a lot of them also allow coaches to wear a hat and room for the coaching headset to operate. Seems like the best of both worlds, right?
Well take it from someone who wore a plastic face shield to practice the very first day. You don't realize how many spit particles come from your mouth throughout the course of a practice until it's collecting on the clear shield in front of you. Also, most of them are fog-resistant, but examining coach Reid's last night, it seems that his clearly was not because by the end of that game the fog was covering the inside of his from top to bottom. Not an ideal situation to be in.
After the game, Reid described his face shield choice as "brutal."
Maybe they could find a way to attach a fog proof visor to a floral Tommy Bahama button down for maximum comfort for Reid?
Seriously though, whether you've already coached a few games, or have a game tonight or in the weeks to come, put some thought and a few practice runs into what facial covering is going to work best for you. Take it from Andy Reid.
The Chiefs still went on to win 34-20 last night, despite the fogged up mask.