Large Bubble Helmets Are Guardian Caps, NFL's New Safety Measure

TE Isaiah Likely

Wondering what's up with the funky bubble helmets players are wearing during training camp?

That's the NFL's new safety measure and they're called Guardian Caps.

The premise is simple. Put extra padding around players' heads to lessen the impact of blows to the helmet, in hopes of further reducing concussions and other negative impacts of on-field collisions.

It's a soft shell that straps around players' helmets. According to the NFL, the Guardian Cap results in at least a 10% reduction in severity of impact if one player is wearing it, and at least a 20% reduction in impact if two players in a collision are wearing it.

The league mandated that offensive linemen, running backs, tight ends, defensive linemen, outside linebackers and inside linebackers – those positions having the most collisions – wear the Guardian Caps until the second preseason game – essentially the first two weeks of training camp.

"Supposedly, the research shows it helps the linemen with their heads – it takes some force off our brains a little bit," offensive tackle Kevin Zeitler said. "It's a little warm and heavy right now, but if it's for our future health, it's totally worth it."

The four head coaches on the NFL Competition Committee – Frank Reich (Colts), Ron Rivera (Commanders), Mike Tomlin (Steelers) and Mike Vrabel (Titans) – recommended players wear Guardian Caps.

Players began wearing them at the beginning of offseason practices, starting with rookie camp, then OTAs, minicamp and now training camp. The Ravens put the Guardian Caps on pretty much all of their players during rookie camp.

Some players around the league have been critical of the new measure. Veteran Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt said you "feel like a bobblehead." However, coaches and the league are preaching it's all part of helping to protect players.

"As a leader of the group, it's my job to safeguard them and make their working environment as safe as I can make it," Tomlin said before being asked how players are responding. "Who cares."

Related Content