New Protective Equipment Growing in the SEC

Greg Arias

Some say they look funny, but they serve a specific purpose, to limit head injuries to football players. What exactly are we talking about here?

Those helmet covering that Vanderbilt and four other SEC teams are now wearing are called Guardian Caps, and you might have seen them in recent pictures of Commodore football players. 

Vanderbilt cornerback Randall Haynie (4) breaks up a pass intend for tight end Justin Ball (84) during spring practice on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Nas Vandy Football Spring Practice 024. Photo By: Mark Zaleski / For The Tennessean, The Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

What exactly do these products do for players who wear them? 

According to Guardian, these soft-shell protective coverings fits all football helmets and reduce the impact of hits up to 33 percent. 

The use of Guardian devices started in the NFL last month after gaining their first usage with high school and colleges. 

“We currently have some clubs using them,” said Dr. Allen Sills, chief medical officer of the NFL. “(Through testing) we’ve found some beneficial aspects with some of the hits, a reduction in force.At the high school level, it can be an important component, but it’s got to be one component of the overall strategy of reducing contact. You want to think about how you practice, how contact is modified, technique. You have to make sure (the thought is not) ‘I’ve got this thing protecting my head, I can go use it as a battering ram’. You have to talk about how to not use the head. It’s a chain with many links.”

Head injuries have been a long standing issue in football, and one that has grown in recognition in recent seasons. Anything leagues or teams can do to lessen the amount of big hits players sustain to their head is a welcome addition. 

Vanderbilt is the 5th SEC team (Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mizzou, South Carolina) to start utilizing Guardian Caps after their coaching staff spent time with the Rutgers coaching staff this past off season and heard great feedback on the product (Rutgers had seen positive results the last three season using the Caps).

While these protective covering can be beneficial to all players, most teams are using them for players during practice who play inside such as offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers, where collisions occur on every snap. 

It's a positive sign for the immediate, and long term health of these players that Vanderbilt has invested in these devices. 

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