NFL Players Voicing Concerns About Mandated ‘Guardian Cap’

by Patrick Norton

The NFL’s rapid expansion of safety measures always keep its players’ interests in mind. However, some mandates don’t hit the intended way. For example, the league’s recent mandate requires every single lineman, linebacker and tight end wear a Guardian Cap. The requirement lasts through the second week of the preseason.

The additional layer of protective padding fits over the helmet, aiming to minimize traumatic impacts to the head. However, some players are speaking out and voicing concerns about potential dangers related to the headware. Head coach of the New York Jets Robert Saleh believes the intention is pure, saying, “I think the spirit of it all is really good.”

However, Saleh doesn’t agree with the mandate. The coach said, “I do think because of the soft blow, it’s kind of lending the players to use their heads a little bit more. I do think the first time when they take it off – anybody who has played football knows the first time you take your helmet off or you hit with the helmet or you have a collision – there’s a shock.”

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt offered his experience with the Guardian Cap. He said, “You feel like a bobblehead. Like you’re gonna fall over. I’ll probably get fined for this.” Watt later shared that if the science says the caps reduce head trauma enough, why only require them through two weeks. “But not in the games. So let’s keep it safe sometimes. I don’t know, whatever,” he said.

Could We See a Guardian Cap in Another Sport?

While some players appear less than happy with the change, if it benefits safety, it outweighs lack of comfort. While baseball pitchers don’t necessarily engage in a car accident every pitch, it could prohibit serious issues stemming from line-drive comebackers.

Last week, Miami Marlins pitcher Daniel Castano dropped to his knees after a ball hit him in the head. Castano eventually walked off the field under his own power. However, he experienced mild concussion-like symptoms after the incident. Even if a device could prevent one future concussion, the availability of a Guardian Cap for a pitcher immediately becomes a bonus.