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What was the deal with OBJ’s visor?

Early in the Browns 23-3 victory over the Jets, the referees made the talented WR change his helmet visor

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns took care of business on Monday Night Football and defeated the New York Jets 23-3 in a crucial road game and their first win of this season.

Three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham, Jr. had an outstanding game with six catches for 161 yards and a touchdown in his old stadium. He displayed why GM John Dorsey pulled the trigger on a trade with the other New York team, the Giants, back in the spring.

After a spectacular one-handed catch, a problem occurred with the referees concerning OBJ’s helmet. They wanted him to switch out his helmet visor and sent him off the field. At the time, the Browns had a third-and-goal in the first quarter looking to score.

OBJ was sent off and told to replace the visor to one that was clear, which is set by NFL rules. Nobody in the stadium knew exactly what was going on at the time, until ESPN’s Lisa Salters reported on-air what the deal was. Browns equipment personnel went right to the problem and switched the visor out to a clear one, but OBJ was not happy. Reported Salters:

“Odell was very vocal over here on the sideline because he was out the of game while all that was happening. His point was other guys have worn it. He thinks he’s being picked on.”

He comments of “being picked on” is the result of the fact that last week he wore a very expensive watch during the game and had been recommended to not to wear it again. And now this. In last week’s game against the Tennessee Titans, his visor was not the standard clear but had a weird rose tint, so it’s unsure when the darkened one was installed prior to the Jets game and by whom.

The big questions now looms: who installed the dark visor and why didn’t they know that the NFL would not allow him to use it during an actual game?

After the game, OBJ told Salters:

“All I want is it to be fair around the league. If you’re gonna tell me to do something, do it or everybody else. “You let people stay in the game on Monday Night Football with gold visors — everybody else has tinted visors — you pull me off and it hurts my team, I hurt my team on third-and-goal. You can warn me, do something, but don’t pull me off on third-and-goal. All I want is it to be fair. I want to play football.”

Under NFL rules, any player may wear a visor but is not mandatory. If a visor is used, it must be clear unless prescribed with a doctor’s prescription for a tinted version. In 2018, 14 players were medically approved to wear the dark-tinted visors. However, with practices and game day warm-ups any visor is allowed as long as it is changed out before kickoff or the player cannot enter the game.

In 1998, the league banned dark colored visors because medical personnel could not see a player’s eyes once they attended to him on the field when an injury would occur, especially if the player was knocked out or concussed.

OBJ’s point of seeing other players in the league wearing colored or varied visors does ring true in this season for many reasons; but each is medically approved or they are the new Oakley visors.

This year, the NFL will allow lightly tinted visors that are provided by Oakley. It is a four-year agreement the NFL struck with the sunglass company, and they pay good money for the sponsorship which is financially shared by all 32 NFL clubs. With the Oakley Prizm Clear visors, the player’s visor has a “tab” that houses the Oakley “O” logo while the visor is slightly tinted designed to enhance visual acuity and is displayed with a pinkish hue.

But dark tints used by various NFL players for years including OBJ on Monday Night, are still banned.

The sponsorship with Oakley was announced in August. The NFL’s VP of business development, Nana-Yaw Asamoah, was quoted at the time:

“We really just got excited about a brand that’s so endemic to sports, but also one that’s a leader in their category from an optical standpoint. We’ve had rules around visors and what players are allowed to wear on the field, but we haven’t had any relationships there. Through conversations what became uncovered was that from both a performance and safety standpoint, there was a lot more that could be done in this space and working with a brand like Oakley could really take us to the next level on that.”

Wayne Chumbley, Oakley’s performance lab supervisor, explained the technology behind the Prizm shields:

“Prizm is a light-management technology. We can filter light in a way to leverage your natural visual acuity. So we see colors—red, green and blue—naturally. If you can heighten your sensitivity in areas, it can create a lot of color contrast which creates a better depth perception scenario for you. So with Prizm clear, what we’re doing is we’re eliminating areas of color confusion. Between green and red there’s an area of cone overlap and cone sensitivity, and if we knock down that area of overlap, you actually see all the colors better.”

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with an Oakley visor complete with logo

Which means OBJ has indeed seen other players with tinted visors. The solution is very simple for Beckham - get an Oakley visor or find a doctor to write him a prescription for the darker version.

The NFL today now sports three logos from the chest up of each player: the NFL shield (or this year the NFL 100-year logo), the Nike swoosh and now the Oakley “O”.