The NFL announced for the first time in training camp, several players from all 32 NFL teams will wear 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 and defensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers are required to wear the Guardian Cap, which provides additional impact protection during a time when the league sees the greatest number of helmet impacts.
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.
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 – Frank Reich, Ron Rivera, Mike Tomlin and Mike Vrabel – recommended players wear Guardian Caps this preseason.
The Guardian Cap is the latest example of the league's continued work to foster innovation that leads to better, safer protective equipment for players.
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 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.
The league will collect and analyze data from preseason practice to understand how Guardian Caps performed 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 development of better-performing helmets, implementing rules changes aimed at removing unnecessarily risky behavior, 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% reduction in concussions among NFL players compared to the 2015-2017 seasons.