For the first time in training camp, some players from all 32 NFL teams are wearing a padded shell affixed to the outside of their helmets, called a Guardian Cap. In all 2022 preseason practices up until the second preseason game, all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers are required to wear the Guardian Cap, providing additional impact protection during the period when the league sees the greatest concentration of helmet impacts.
When worn, the Guardian Cap results in at least a 10% reduction in the severity of impact if one player is wearing it, and at least a 20% reduction in impact if two players are wearing them.
In March 2022, NFL clubs voted on and passed a resolution on this requirement. That vote followed consideration and recommendations by the Competition Committee and the Owners’ Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as consultation with head coaches around the League.
The four Head Coaches on the NFL Competition Committee – Coaches Frank Reich, Ron Rivera, Mike Tomlin and Mike Vrabel – recommended players wear Guardian Caps this preseason.
Here’s why, in their own words: WATCH HERE.
Guardian Cap is the latest example of the league’s continued work to foster innovation that leads to better, safer protective equipment for players. WATCH HERE
The company that makes Guardian Cap was a recipient of the NFL’s first HeadHealthTECH innovation challenge series in 2017, which aimed to stimulate the development of better player safety equipment.
The model being worn at NFL training camps is not the same model seen on college and high school football fields.
The NFL and NFLPA, through their biomechanical engineering experts, worked collaboratively with the Guardian Cap manufacturer to test and evolve the design of a Cap that specifically withstands impacts NFL players experience on the field – work made possible because of the vast amount of data collected and analyzed from the NFL playing field that helps the league to understand the biomechanics of head injury and simulate that in a laboratory environment.
The league will collect and analyse data from preseason practice to understand how Guardian Caps performed, and to improve future health and safety efforts.
The Guardian Cap represents one piece of larger efforts to reduce avoidable head impacts and advance the health and safety of players, including stimulating the development of better-performing helmets, implementing rules changes aimed at removing unnecessarily risky behaviour, and adapting training and playing techniques.
These efforts have contributed to a sustained trend for each of the last four seasons (2018-2021) of a 25 per cent reduction in concussions among NFL players compared to the 2015-2017 seasons.