What’s With Those Padded Caps NFL Players Are Wearing In Training Camp?

This is the first year the NFL mandated some players wear Guardian Caps


Jul 29, 2022

The NFL took a step forward in addressing player protection with the introduction of their new Guardian Cap, an innovative helmet created to reduce the on-field risks of collision severity.

This latest initiative at keeping players across the league safe resulted from the collaborative efforts of the NFL Competition Committee and the NFL Players Association.

The Guardian Cap features a padded shell-like layer, placed over the helmets of players to reduce the impact of a player-to-player collision. On Wednesday, the NFL Network Twitter account released a video, demonstrating how the new protective gear works while also detailing its development. According to the video, it is estimated that the Guardian Cap reduces 10% of the impact when one colliding player wears it, and 20% if both wear it.

Used by the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams last year during training camp, Guardian Caps are now mandatory for all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, and tight ends through weeks one and two of the NFL preseason.

“I think that you’re always trying to be as safe as possible when you’re playing this game,” Rams offensive lineman David Edwards said in the NFL Network’s video. “Any little thing that can prevent injuries or make the game safer… why not try it?”

Edwards added: “There are certain points and times… any type of collision or hit where you get to hit that Guardian Cap and you just don’t feel that impact as much. Wearing the Guardian Cap, ultimately, is going to keep you safer.”

NFL head coaches Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders), Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), and Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans) — all on the NFL’s Competition Committee — each voiced their approval of the helmet and collectively encouraged to further prioritize player safety across the league.

“I love football. My sons play football. I’m morally obligated to keep this [expletive] group safe, and I promise you, you gonna get that commitment from me,” Tomlin said in a video released by the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt had a more critical take, poking fun at the headgear when speaking to reporters.

“I mean, I think you know what I think of the Guardian Caps we’re wearing,” Watt said, according to ESPN staff writer Josh Weinfuss. “You feel like a bobblehead. Like you’re gonna fall over. I’ll probably get fined for this.”

Data will be collected and analyzed to provide the league with insight, allowing further progression for striving toward collision reduction and player safety.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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