If you’ve been following NFL training camp, you may have noticed teams across the league are sporting new helmets. The helmet, or “Guardian Cap”, is a soft-shell cushion that rests on top of players’ helmets. The protection decreases the impact of head collisions, reducing concussions.
Over the last three seasons, the NFL reported 30 documented concussions per year during preseason practices, which is what led to the mandate.
Recently, the NFL released a statement about the caps. “Wearing Guardian Cap results in at least a 10 percent reduction in severity of impact if one plater is wearing it, and at least a 20 percent reduction in impact if two platers in a collision are wearing it. This is, of course, just one piece of out larger efforts to reduce avoidable head impacts through better helmets, improved techniques, and training regimens.”
The Guardian Cap is to be worn by offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers until the end of the second preseason game. This is when teams usually ease the amount of contact. However, while a safety measure, the new accessory is gaining mixed reviews across the league, including the Philadelphia Eagles.
GUARDIAN CAP REVIEWS
On Friday, center Jason Kelce walked into training camp, not only with his helmet, but also with bubble wrap. Kelce stated, “I mean, they said a Guardian Cap adds 20% protection — figured the bubble wrap gave me another two or three.”
His mocking, also came with a side of seriousness.
“They’re just trying to make it a safer game. Trying to protect the health of the platers as much as they can, so it’s just the newest thing.”
Jason Kelce is wearing the bubble wrap on top of the guardian cap concussion protective padding during drills 😂
NFL is requiring the Linemen to wear them during camp pic.twitter.com/Vb1FP4d0z3
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) July 29, 2022
Tight end Dallas Goedert agreed. “I think we look a little goofy, but they’re there for good reason…You only get one brain, so I might as well keep it as best you can.”
But, the Eagles aren’t the only ones who have an opinion. Bradley Chubb of the Denver Broncos stated, “It is kind of ugly. I don’t like ugly.” He added, “They’re a little heavy, but if they’re going to make us safe, I’m all for it. I know guys around the league all have to wear them, so it is what it is. It’s all good with me if it gets us to the season and knocks down concussions, it’s all good.”
Arizona Cardinals’ defensive lineman J.J. Watt said that his balance is compromised and it’s going to take time to get used to the helmet. “You feel like a bobblehead,” Watt said.
The concern is, once a player gets used to the equipment, it essentially comes off. This is what Jets’ coach Robert Saleh argues, stating that it can lead to a false sense of security.
Saleh stated, “I do think because of the soft blow, it’s kind of lending the players to use their heads a little bit more. I do think the first time when they take it off — anybody who has played football knows the first time you take your helmet off or you hit with your helmet or you have 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.”
The Eagles will wear them for preseason games against the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. Preseason begins on Friday, August 12.