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Big Head Mode Activated: CFL Players Now Allowed to Wear Guardian Caps in Games

The CFL announced on Wednesday that it will be allowing players to wear Guardian Caps over their helmets in games throughout the season. The NFL also recently announced that they will be allowing the use of guardian caps for use in regular season games in April. The CFL stated that in 2023 the introduction of Guardian Caps led to a 42% decrease in training camp concussions.

“Through additional equipment, education, training, and staffing, we are helping to ensure our players have long and productive careers,” stated CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “Players give so much of themselves for our game – their effort, energy, time spent away from family and loved ones, and more.”

“For all they do, we owe it to them to explore every avenue to safeguard their efforts on the field, so that they can play to their fullest potential and also lead rich and fulfilling lives after their playing days are behind them.”

The allowed use of Guardian Caps in games this season builds upon the CFL’s efforts last year which saw mandated use of Guardian Caps by offensive and defensive linemen, running backs, and linebackers during CFL training camps and contract practices throughout the season. The CFL also began using collapsable medical tents last season.

From an optics perspective the Guardian Caps, or as I like to call it ‘Big Head Mode’, is certainly something for spectators to get used to. It falls short visually to the pristine look of a logo on a football helmet that we are accustomed to. If it can help keep players safe and improve their quality of life during and after their careers as well as extend the possible longevity of a player’s career than it is a good tradeoff. This past offseason we saw Montreal’s 2nd string safety, Zach Lindley, retire in part due to concussions sustained throughout the season despite being only 24 years old.

Mandatory Mouthguards

Moving forward the CFL will also amend their dress code to include mouthguards, making the CFL the first pro sports league in North America to mandate mouthguards. This decision is made based on the evidence presented at the 6th International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport which presented information that mouthguards mitigate the risk of oral-facial injuries as well as concussions.

It’s no secret that leadership in many governing bodies surrounding football have been taking measures to reduce the risk of head injuries. The kickoff has been one point of contention as modifications have been made to it in various leagues. Such as the NFL years ago moved the kickoff to be closer to the opposing end zone which has seen a significant increase in touchbacks. The CFL has also been discussing possible changes to its own kickoff rules.

CFL Kickoff Debate: A Call for Transparency with Insight from RB Jeshrun Antwi

Guardian Caps in the NFL

The NFL’s previously announced plans to have team logos on the Guardian Caps worn in games. NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Miller had previously stated that the guardian caps had nearly a 50% reduction in concussions among those wearing guardian caps over the 2022 and 2023 NFL training camps.

“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 VP Jeff Miller previously stated. “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.”

With the NFL adopting it into their gameday equipment I would hypothesize that there will be some bright minds working towards making the equipment more aesthetically pleasing in addition to providing increased safety.

In Closing

With the risks of concussions in football and the rising concerns surrounding CTE, this is a sensible move for player safety by the CFL. The data from both the CFL and the NFL undeniably supports that Guardian Caps have been effective at lowering the risks of concussions. Players wearing Guardian Caps is certainly something to get used to from an optics standpoint, but it is a small price to pay. In time surely they will also find ways to make the equipment look more visibly suited to complement a football uniform visually.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. David Tress

    May 17, 2024 at 11:48 am

    The Gaurdian caps are a bit clumsy and will look odd during regular season games. Hopefully they wont effect a player’s speed or ability to catch the deep ball. And hopefully they wont give the CFL the perception of being a minor league.

    • Michael Muldoon

      May 18, 2024 at 7:31 am

      Yeah, let’s worry about the CFL looking minor league over this when you consider that the article very clearly states, “The NFL also recently announced that they will be allowing the use of guardian caps for use in regular season games in April.” Because, well, the NFL is minor league when it comes to football, as we all know. /sarcasm

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