SALT LAKE CITY – As NFL and college football camps open across the US, fans have been asking about the large, padded caps being worn over helmets.
Known as ‘Guardians Caps’ in reference to Guardian, the company responsible for the creation of the oversized, mushroom-shaped foam helmets that wrap around the standard helmet. The NFL has mandated use of the cap for offensive & defensive lineman, linebackers and tight ends during training camp until the second preseason game.
“Wearing the Guardian Cap will help protect players in these position groups with the most head impacts,” an NFL issued tweet said while explaining the effectiveness of the caps.
Locally, the University of Utah has been using the caps in their fall camp.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 3, 2022
With player safety, specifically brain injuries, taking the forefront in conversations about the sports sustainability in recent years, the NFL funded some of the testing.
“The guardian cap helps reduce impact up to 10 percent with one player wearing it. Up to 20 percent reduction in head impacts if both players are wearing the Guardian Cap.”
Players league-wide are wearing Guardian Caps during 2022 preseason practices – the latest example of the NFL’s continued work to foster innovation that leads to better protective equipment and makes the game safer for players. pic.twitter.com/gB4aAF7YHG
— NFL (@NFL) July 27, 2022
Although skepticism from players and coaches remains about the effectiveness of the new safety addition, the league has no plans to scrap the idea.
Five-time All-Pro defensive lineman JJ Watt was critical of the headgears used in practice but not in games. “But not in the games. So let’s keep it safe sometimes. I don’t know, whatever,” Watt said following an Arizona Cardinals practice.
New York Jets head coach Mo Saleh also voiced concerns about the inconsistent use of the caps.
“I do think because of the soft blow, it’s kind of lending the players to use their heads a little bit more. Anyone who has played football knows the first time you take your helmet off or you hit with the helmet or you have a collision, there’s a shock. I do think that if you’re waiting until the first game for that shock to happen… I don’t know, time will tell. It’s just interesting with those Guardian Caps and what exactly are we trying to accomplish.”