NFL Introduces Guardian Caps At First Week Of Training Camp

Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee Titans

With NFL training back in full swing, you may have notice something different on the players helmets this year.

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.

Taylor Lewan wearing the new Guardian Cap. Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee Titans

When worn, the Guardian Cap results in at least a 10% reduction in severity of impact if one player is wearing it, and at least a 20% reduction in impact if two players are wearing them.

“There hasn’t been any pushback and really after a day or two, I don’t think anyone’s really noticed. We’ve practiced with them with the early group and think these guys understand how important player safety is,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel shared in an interview with NFL Network.

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 head coaches on NFL Competition Committee include Vrabel, Frank Reich, Ron Rivera, and Mike Tomlin.

The company that makes Guardian Cap was a recipient of the NFL’s first HeadHealthTECH innovation challenge series in 2017, which aimed to stimulate development of better player safety equipment.

Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee Titans

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 which helps the league understand the biomechanics of head injury and simulate that in a laboratory environment.

Steven Boero