September 7, 2023
Guardian Caps, which are soft-shell helmet covers, became a mandatory part of linemen and linebacker’s uniforms during last season’s NFL training camp.
When training camps across the league began opening this year, running backs started wearing the protective helmet during the preseason and throughout regular season practices whenever players are making full contact.
During a recent appearance on “Good Morning Football,” Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president who oversees player health and safety, suggested that the Guardian Caps could debut in actual games in the near future.
“I think the day could come,” Miller said. “But at the same time, a lot of the helmets are also making advances, too, and so some of the protective benefits you get from the Guardian Cap hopefully will be seen in helmets in the next year or two.”
Football helmets are typically made up of polycarbonate, which is a durable plastic. Meanwhile, the padding on Guardian Caps is believed to decrease the impact to a helmet’s hard exterior.
According to data provided by the NFL, the Guardian Caps decreased concussions by approximately 52 last year. Miller did mention on “Good Morning Football” that the league was told about some issues with the caps, including some concerns about the overall fit of the caps.
A considerable amount of players and coaches have expressed support for the Guardian Caps.
Miller said the league hopes to eventually “get to the place where players … wear helmets specific to their position.”
Custom-designed protective gear is one alternative to Guardian Caps that is currently be utilized by some players. The quarterback-specific VICIS helmet features extra padding.
At least 10 quarterbacks, including Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, have used the helmet.
Miller acknowledged that the types of impacts quarterbacks experience during a game is different from other positions.
“A corner sees the world very differently from the quarterback,” Miller said. “He experiences different sorts of impacts, different magnitudes. And we’ve been able to track that, analyze those, create laboratory tests. … And as a result, you can ‘tune’ helmets to those sorts of impacts. … We also see a lot of position-specific helmets for linemen because they get hit a lot towards the front.”
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Miller described the type of styles players could wear in the future.
“I presume in the next few years the facemask will change,” he said. “Does it have to have bars? Could it be a more motorcycle-type look? All those things are possible.”