NFL had seven-year low in training-camp concussions, thanks to Guardian caps

NBC Sports – Pro Football Talk

October 17, 2023

Good news, NFL. The Guardian caps work.

Bad news, NFL. The Guardian caps work.

The league said Tuesday that the external cushioning device worn during training camp practices helped the league realize a seven-year low in training-camp concussions. Also, concussions were down 46 percent lower in comparison to the three-year average without them.

That’s great news. So why not use them in games?

When that issue came up in August, the league offered up a word salad regarding looming improvements in helmet technology to deflect from the possibility of making a change that would not be aesthetically pleasing to the average NFL fan.

But what happens if/when a player publicly asks to use the Guardian cap? The league has made it clear the answer, for now, will be no. That wouldn’t be a popular position for the league to take, especially if a player with a concussion history (such as Tua Tagovailoa) asked to wear one.

The other problem with Guardian caps is that they can induce bad habits by creating a false sense of security. Players need to learn how to keep their helmets out of the fray in order to minimize concussions and other less impactful blows to the head. Wearing the Guardian cap removes the incentive to acquire and hone that skill in practice.

So, yes, it’s good that Guardian caps are making practice safer. Are they making games safer, especially if players aren’t allowed to wear them? That’s the potentially more important question, especially if the league won’t let players use them during games.

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