Protective helmets for some NFL players

August 2, 2022

I think we look a little goofy, but they’re there for good reason.

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert talking about the Guardian Cap — a special football helmet with padding on the outside — that is now required for certain players during NFL training camp and part of the preseason. The cap helps minimize head impact.

Why It Matters: Concussions are the leading injury among NFL players. To help limit head injuries, the NFL is now requiring certain players — specifically offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends — to wear a Guardian Cap during training camp and through the second week of preseason games (typically the time when there’s an increased amount of collisions). The specially-padded helmet, which reportedly decreases impact by up to 20%, is also used by thousands of colleges, high schools, and youth programs throughout the country.

  • The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said in a statement, “The brain does not acclimate to head impacts. The Guardian Cap helps mitigate those forces at a time of the season when we see the greatest concentration of them.” He has also noted that even if it doesn’t ultimately reduce the total number of concussions, “we would still consider this worthwhile if it reduces the force that each player receives.”
  • Some players and coaches have criticized the new rule: “You feel like a bobblehead, like you’re going to fall over,” said Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Seahawks tight end Noah Fant said, “It’s just one of those things that’s a little bit of an inconvenience but we’re going to roll with it. I know in the game I won’t have to wear it, so we’ll make it work.”
  • Football has the highest rate of concussions among U.S. sports; however, rugby players have a higher rate of concussions on a global scale (based on 2020 data).
  • Big Picture: The NFL has been working to minimize the number of head injuries since 2018; so far, their efforts seem to be working. The 2021-2022 season saw a total of 187 concussions. The average number of concussions per season between 2015 – 2017 was about 266.

‘We look a little goofy:’ Eagles players on wearing the new Guardian Cap (Philadelphia Inquirer)

What are Guardian Caps, and why are some NFL players wearing them during training camp? (USA Today)

by Jenna Lee,