NFL fans in Illinois and around the country who watch footage recorded during preseason workouts and scrimmages may have noticed offensive and defensive linemen were wearing helmets covered in padding. These are known as Guardian Caps, and they are designed to prevent concussions and other types of brain injuries. Guardian Caps are worn during preseason practices and regular season contact practices by linemen, tight ends and running backs.
Guardian Caps appear to be effective at preventing concussions. The number of concussions suffered by NFL players during preseason practices and games was more than 50% lower in 2023 than it was in 2022, which is why the wearing of Guardian Caps has now been mandated by league officials. The NFL has also made a rule change that is expected to reduce the number of kickoff returns by 15%, which should further reduce the number of concussions and traumatic brain injuries suffered by players.
A new type of football helmet is being tested by NFL teams that could make the game far safer for vulnerable players. VCIS helmets have additional layers of padding and a deformable outer shell that protects players in the same way a crumple zone protects passenger vehicle occupants. Initial test results suggest that these features reduce the forces of a collision by up to 50%. More padding is placed at the back of the VCIS helmets being tested by quarterbacks, while the VCIS helmets designed for linemen have more padding at the front.
Making football safer
Professional football players risk suffering concussions or head injuries every time they take the field. The NFL has recently announced measures that are designed to make the game safer. Linemen, tight ends and running backs are required to wear padded Guardian Caps during practice sessions, and quarterbacks and linemen are testing a new type of helmet that could prevent serious head injuries.