The NFL and players union made Big News last week when it was announced that a quarterback-specific helmet will be available for use for the first time this season.
Joint league and NFLPA research has shown that 50% or all quarterback concussions occur when their helmets hit the ground. This new helmet—the VICIS ZERO2 MATRIX QB—performed seven percent better in quarterback-specific testing than even the most popular helmet worn by quarterbacks in 2022.
You may recall in 2021 that helmets designed specifically for offensive and defensive linemen were introduced into the league. The new helmets took into account the unique locations and speeds of head impacts for those two groups in order to provide players more customized protection.
Additional testing will be performed for other specific on-field positions in the near future. The rate of innovation in this area is especially swift. One indication is that seven helmets that were in the Top Performing group just three years ago are now prohibited for use by players for this upcoming season.
In related news, the league announced at its Annual Meeting last month that Guardian Caps, the mushroom-shaped foam cap that wraps around a player’s helmet, will be mandated for all preseason practices when helmets are in use as well as in the regular season for contact practices. Linemen, linebackers, and tight ends wore Guardian Caps last year and now running backs and fullbacks also will be instructed to use them in 2023.
These helmet innovations and best practices obviously are too late for us alums, but the goal is the make the game safer for current and future players at every level. We at NFL Alumni agree!