PITTSBURGH — Through three practices of minicamp, the Guardian helmet covers mandated by the NFL competition committee for wear in practices have gotten mixed reviews by the Pittsburgh Steelers players.
For the most part, the players seem appreciative of the concept of the caps, which are designed to reduce injuries, both from concussions and from injuries players get while contacting other players’ helmets, like when quarterbacks injure their hands hitting the helmet of a lineman.
“They’re for our safety, so it’s all good,” wide receiver Chase Claypool said.
Others aren’t getting their first experience with the covers.
“I wore them in college,” tight end Pat Freiermuth said. “I like them, just because of my past with concussions. I kind of like the extra protection.”
Freiermuth suffered a pair of concussion-like injuries in 2021 as a rookie, so he has a special level of appreciation for the concern.
But there’s no getting around the other part of the equation.
“Oh, you look dumb,” Freiermuth said. “You definitely look dumb. But it’s good protection.”
Athletes have long been resistant to wearing additional protective equipment. Some may feel that an outward focus on safety may make them seen less tough. Others might just not like the look.
Especially in a culture where social media has made appearance more important than ever, the exaggerated look of the the covers may be their biggest hindrance to acceptance.
The pilot program will run through the start of training camp, so fans and players will have to get used to their favorite players looking like bobbleheads for the time being, but that doesn’t mean they have to like it.
“No camp pictures will be posted this year,” Claypool joked.