NFL players wear Guardian Caps to reduce head trauma during training camp

NFL’s newest fashion trend: Increasing number of players are wearing Guardian Caps – a soft-shell helmet cover that claims to reduce the force of hits by up to 20 percent – as league works to cut training camp head injuriesMore NFL players are wearing Guardian Caps in training camp after the league required certain positions to use the soft-shell helmet cover to cut head injuriesThe waffled helmet covering creates a soft-shell layer that can significantly reduce the impact of helmet-to-helmet hits, according to the companyPlayers at certain positions deemed to be at greater risk are required to wear the caps between the start of training camp and the second preseason gameSome teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, are requiring others to wear it too 

This week’s opening of NFL training camps has revealed a new league-wide fashion trend: The Guardian Cap.

The waffled helmet covering creates a soft-shell layer that can significantly reduce the impact of helmet-to-helmet hits, according to the company. 

The Guardian Cap, which closely resembles rugby’s scrum cap, was adopted during the annual league meetings in March as part of the NFL’s ongoing effort to reduce head trauma during practices.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle works on a blocking drill during Wednesday's practice. Kittle can be seen wearing a Guardian Cap, which reduces the force of collisions

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle works on a blocking drill during Wednesday’s practice. Kittle can be seen wearing a Guardian Cap, which reduces the force of collisions 

Tennessee Titans players wear guardian caps on their helmets as they warm up before practice

Tennessee Titans players wear guardian caps on their helmets as they warm up before practice

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

According to the league, the cap can reduce the force of head contact by 10 percent when worn by one player, and by 20 percent if every player involved in a collision has one covering their helmet.

Players at certain positions deemed to be at greater risk are required to wear the caps between the start of training camp and the second preseason game, when concussion rates typically spike. Those players include offensive and defensive lineman, right ends, and linebackers.

Other teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, are requiring other players to wear the caps as well.

‘It’s for their safety,’ Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, as quoted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. ‘We don’t run away from those things. We run to those things. We’re going to make it a non-issue for us. It’s about the work that we do.’

New York Giants wide receiver Toney Ladarius, center, breaks away from Jihad Ward (55) during a drill at the NFL football team's training camp

New York Giants wide receiver Toney Ladarius, center, breaks away from Jihad Ward (55) during a drill at the NFL football team’s training camp

The adoption of the Guardian Cap comes as new research found ‘conclusive evidence’ that repeated head impacts cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The study was carried out by researchers from Harvard University and eight other academic institutions alongside the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a Boston-based non-profit which aims to reduce the risk of concussions in young athletes.

Dr. Chris Nowinski, chief executive of the Foundation and a lead author of the study, said on Tuesday the analysis provided ‘the highest scientific confidence’ of a causal link between repeated head impacts and CTE.

‘Sport governing bodies should acknowledge that head impacts cause CTE and they should not mislead the public on CTE causation while athletes die, and families are destroyed, by this terrible disease,’ Nowinski added.

The research paper, titled Applying the Bradford Hill Criteria for Causation to Repetitive Head Impacts and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, was published in the Frontiers in Neurology journal last week.

Researchers have asked sports bodies, government officials and parents to implement prevention and mitigation efforts, especially for children.

‘This analysis shows it is time to include repetitive head impacts and CTE among child protection efforts like exposure to lead, mercury, smoking, and sunburns,’ said Dr. Adam Finkel, a co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Michigan.

‘Repetitive head impacts and CTE deserve recognition in the global public health discussion of preventable disorders caused by childhood exposures.’

The Guardian Cap, which closely resembles rugby's scrum cap (pictured), was adopted during the annual league meetings in March as part of the NFL's ongoing effort to reduce head trauma during practices

The Guardian Cap, which closely resembles rugby’s scrum cap (pictured), was adopted during the annual league meetings in March as part of the NFL’s ongoing effort to reduce head trauma during practices

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