Concussions among NFL players mandated to wear Guardian Cap equipment dropped by more than 50% this summer compared to the previous three-year average, according to data released Wednesday.
For the first time, the league required offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends and linebackers to wear Guardian Caps during practice between the start of training camp until the second preseason game — a period when concussion rates historically have been elevated. There were 11 concussions among those position groups during that time. Six of those were caused by contact to the face mask, which is not protected by a Guardian Cap.
The previous three-year average for players at those positions during that time period was 23 concussions.
Concussions among players at other positions remained flat, said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy.
“The performance of the cap exceeded our expectations in terms of concussion numbers,” Miller said.
Approximately 200 players continued wearing Guardian Caps after the mandate expired.
The NFL will work through the offseason, in conjunction with the NFL Players Association, to address feedback from players, equipment managers and coaches. Miller acknowledged there were some issues with fit and sizing but expressed optimism that they can be addressed with the manufacturer.
No final decision has been made about the use of Guardian Caps in 2023 and beyond.
“We want to work our way through those comments before we’re ready to make a commitment for next season,” Miller said. “We’re really pleased with how it went and optimistic that a device like this will improve the health and safety of our athletes. But what exactly that looks like, I think we need a little bit of time and a fair number of conversations before we get to that point.”