The NFL and and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have decided to permit the Guardian Cap NXT, a soft-shell cover that retrofits all football helmets, to be used by lineman in NFL practices, they announce in a news release.

This announcement comes after NFL and NFLPA-appointed engineers tested and released findings that showed a benefit to using Guardian Caps. 

The testing was conducted at Biocore LLC of Charlottesville, Va, and the experimental design and data analysis were performed by NFL-appointed engineering consultants, Dr Jeff Crandall, Dr.Ann Good, and Dr James Funk in conjunction with two NFLPA-appointed engineering consultants, Dr Barry Myers and Dr Kristy Arbogast. The results were reviewed by the NFL Chief Medical Officer, Dr Allen Sills and by the NFLPA’s Medical Director, D. Thom Mayer.

Engineers simulated impacts sustained by NFL offensive and defensive linemen during games from 2015-2019 and found Guardian Caps to be beneficial. A summary excerpt of their findings from an official Memorandum are as follows:

  • “Add-on products were evaluated based on their ability to limit both rotational and translational measures of head motion relative to helmet tests without the add-on devices.”
  • “A statistical analysis of the weighted results indicated that helmets outfitted with these add-ons exhibited statistically significant improvements (on average 9% for the Guardian Cap NXT and 5% for the ProTech) over the bare helmets.”
  • “Results from centric (direct) and eccentric (glancing) impacts indicated that head impact severity was reduced in all conditions in which a Guardian Cap NXT was present on one or both helmets.”
  • The conclusion reads, “Based on the data from laboratory testing with a relatively small number of helmet models and impact conditions, the jointly appointed engineers believe that using the Guardian Cap NXT may reduce the head impact severity exposure for linemen, which may reduce the risk of concussion. Accordingly, the NFL and NFLPA will permit use of the Guardian Cap NXT for linemen during practices only.”
  • Finally, equipment staff and trainers from collegiate teams that have used versions of these products were interviewed to acquire qualitative feedback on on-field performance and usability of these products. In general, feedback from the collegiate teams that have used these add-ons for practices was positive. None of the teams interviewed reported issues with neck pain or fatigue as a result of using these add-ons. Further, no issues related to moisture or heat retention were reported.

“We are pleased that the NFL chose to evaluate Guardian Caps with their most up-to-date testing protocols. Their data showing that head impact severity was reduced in all conditions in which a Cap was present validates the feedback we’ve received for the past 10 years from players and coaches using Guardian Caps. We’re hoping that this research will encourage all levels of football to see the benefit that adding a Guardian Cap can have for players.”

“We started working with the NFL in 2017 when we won the inaugural NFL HeadHealthTECH Challenge – a competition funded by the NFL to encourage innovations in equipment. This led to continued discussions and testing with NFL engineers that led to the validation that our Guardian Cap, a decoupled add-on, could significantly improve the performance of current helmets.”  

— Erin Hanson, Owner and Founder of Guardian Innovations

[Source: NFL, NFLPA]

Related Content:
BYU Engineers Develop Football Helmet Smartfoam Designed to Measure Impacts
VICIS and the University of Alabama Team Up to Develop Safer Football Helmets
Helmetless-Tackling Drills May Help Reduce Head Impacts