(CBS Sports) The NFL said Wednesday that the number of concussions dropped by more than half among players who were mandated to wear a Guardian Cap in their helmets during the summer.
During the summer, the league made all offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends wear a Guardian Cap. It is a protective cover worn on the top of the head that is supposed to absorb the majority of a collision and reduce the direct impact on the brain. They were worn from the start of training camp until the end of the second preseason game — a specific time period of in which the league had historically seen concussion incidences be elevated.
The NFL stated that there were only 11 concussions among those position groups during that period of time this summer, with six of those occurring as the result of contact to the face mask (an area not protected by the Guardian Cap). By comparison, the previous three-year average had been 23 concussions among players at those positions.
According to Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs, and policy, the performance of the Guardian Cap “exceeded our expectations” in terms of concussion numbers with the mandate in place. While some issues with fit and sizing were expressed through feedback from players, coaches and equipment managers, the league expressed optimism that those could be worked through as the NFL looks towards the future of the Guardian Cap’s usage.
“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.”