NFL Players Could Look Very Different Next Season — Guardian Caps Authorized for In-Game Use

Get ready for Guardian Caps during NFL games. Here's everything you need to know after the league announced a new health and safety measure on Friday.

Your favorite NFL player might look quite a bit different in 2024.

On Friday, the league announced that it will permit players to wear Guardian Caps, the soft-shell helmet covers designed to reduce concussions.

NFL Allows In-Game Guardian Cap Use in 2024

The NFL’s operations department said Friday that it will allow the use of Guardian Caps in games to “reduce player risk and continue driving innovations in equipment technology.”

It’s a significant reversal for the league, which prohibited the use of Guardian Caps during games in 2023.

“We now have two years of data showing significant concussion reductions among players who wear Guardian Caps during practice, so players will be permitted to wear the cap during games this upcoming season,” NFL executive vice president Jeff Miller said in a statement.

“Additionally, there are new helmets this year that provide as much — if not more — protection than a different helmet model paired with a Guardian Cap. These developments represent substantial progress in our efforts to make the game safer for players.”

The NFL introduced Guardian Caps during the 2022 preseason. In 2023, the league required positions that receive the most head contact — running backs, linemen, and linebackers — to wear the extra padding.

In 2024, every position except for quarterbacks and specialists will be mandated to use a Guardian Cap.

Earlier this year, Miller indicated players who wore Guardian Caps during training camp experienced a 50% reduction in concussions over those who did not.

Per the NFL, using a Guardian Cap can result in at least a 10% reduction in head impact severity. If two players wearing Guardian Caps combine for a helmet-to-helmet collision, the impact force is reduced by at least 20%.

It’s unclear how many players will choose to wear Guardian Caps in games. The caps will have team logos on them for game action, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.

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