NFL, players union script a play for safety with Guardian Caps

The Guardian Cap, a padded shell worn on the outside of a football helmet, might make fans of Fred Flintstone think of the Great Gazoo.

But it’s all about safety, not about paying homage to the fictional tiny green alien with the big head who was exiled to Earth from the planet Zetox.

The wearing of the Guardian Caps is being mandated by agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association, at least for a portion of training camp, for all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends.

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The NFL reports Guardian Caps reduce the impact of a collision by 10% if one player is wearing it. If both players wear the cap, there is at least a 20% reduction in severity. While players have worn the caps in previous seasons, owners voted in March to require players from all 32 teams to wear the caps.

“They’re a minor inconvenience, but I think there’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed and that’s one way to do it,” Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard told our news partner WCPO.com during training camp this week. “We take more hits in practice than we do in games, and I think that’s an issue for sure.”

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Players will be allowed to remove the caps Aug. 21, but can continue to wear them if they want. NFL officials said they will collect data from preseason practices to understand how the caps worked and how to make things safer.

The company that makes the Guardian Cap was one of the winners of the NFL’s first HeadHealthTECH innovation challenge series, in 2017, Mike Florio, reported via yahoo.com. The league designed the competition to stimulate development of better player safety equipment. The Guardian Cap helps the impact of the contact to become minimized. Profootballtalk.nbcsports.com first reported the NFL mandate regarding the caps.