With training camps underway, anticipation is growing for the start of the 2022 NFL season. And while many of the traditions of training camp are the same, one visible difference stands out: For the first time, some players from all 32 NFL teams are wearing a padded shell affixed to the outside of their helmets, called a Guardian Cap. It's the latest example of the league's continued work to foster innovation that leads to better, safer protective equipment for players.
The Guardian Cap is a padded covering that goes over the shell of a helmet. When worn, the Guardian Cap results in at least a 10% reduction in severity of impact if one player is wearing it, and at least a 20% reduction in impact if two players are wearing them.
In all 2022 preseason practices up until the second preseason game, all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers are required to wear the Guardian Cap, providing additional impact protection during the period when the league sees the greatest concentration of helmet impacts.
While some players have worn Guardian Caps in previous preseasons, 2022 is the first year that some player position groups across all clubs are required to wear it.
In March 2022, NFL club owners voted and passed a resolution on this requirement. That vote followed consideration and recommendations by the Competition Committee and the Owners' Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as consultation with head coaches around the league.
The Guardian Cap is an example of the league's continued investment and collaboration with manufacturers, medical and engineering experts to develop new innovations that improve the safety of players. The company that makes Guardian Cap was a recipient of the NFL's first HeadHealthTECH innovation challenge series in 2017, which aimed to stimulate development of better player safety equipment.
In the years since, the NFL and NFLPA, through their biomechanical engineering experts, have continued to work collaboratively with the Guardian Cap manufacturer to test and evolve the design of a Cap that specifically withstands impacts NFL players experience on the field -- work made possible because of the vast amount of data collected and analyzed from the NFL playing field that helps the league to understand the biomechanics of head injury and simulate that in a laboratory environment.
The league will collect and analyze data from preseason practice to understand how Guardian Caps performed, and to improve future health and safety efforts.