Oakley partners with NFL as helmet visor provider

The National Football League has announced a four-year agreement with leading eyewear and sport lifestyle brand Oakley to become the league’s official helmet visor provider, a new sponsorship category for the league.

According to a press release, the partnership is the biggest sports deal in Oakley’s history.

Since 1988, the NFL has banned players from wearing tinted helmet visors, also known as shields, unless they had a medical exemption. But the rules were loosened to bring in Oakley, which will become the exclusive visor provider for all players.

As part of the deal, players for all 32 teams will have the option to wear Oakley Prizm Clear shields, a lightly tinted visor designed to help optimize detail recognition and, in turn, enhance performance and improve player safety.

In addition to being the official on-field eyewear partner of the NFL, Oakley will become an official licensee. Fans will be able to buy a special-edition NFL eyewear collection from Oakley, which will be available for all teams in two men’s styles and seven women’s styles. Players and coaches will also be encouraged, but not mandated, to wear Oakley eyewear on the sidelines.

Of note, the Oakley “O” logo will also now be featured on NFL helmets, providing valuable advertising space to the company. With the category now opened up, team deals will follow, with the New York Giants already striking their own partnership with Oakley.

“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,” Nana-Yaw Asamoah, the NFL’s vice president of business development, told Sports Illustrated. “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.”

Oakley also has player-level partnerships with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes – the 2018 NFL MVP – as well as Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers.

“The NFL is the biggest sport in the US with the biggest audience,” Oakley global marketing director Ben Goss told AdAge. “We think this is a really big move for Oakley and a chance for us to bring some new consumers into our brand.”

The deal boosts the NFL’s robust commercial revenues, with partnerships with an official passenger car sponsor and a health insurance sponsor due to be finalized this season.