Disclosed is a protective vest having a collar or neck guard intended for use with helmets and, optionally, with shoulder pads or harnesses, of the types worn by players in contact sports. The protective vest has a flexible body with shoulder portions between chest and back panels. Surrounding an opening for receiving a player's neck is a raised collar, integrally formed with the body, which has an upper ring-like surface for contacting the bottom edge of the player's helmet. When contacted by the player's helmet, the collar, formed of resilient material, is placed in energy-absorbing compression. Also, the chest and back panels surrounding the collar, also being made of resilient material, are placed in a tension and compression loading, to further aid in absorbing the loading applied to the collar. The body portion and, particularly, the chest and neck panels are pliable so as to conform to the topography of the player's upper torso and to frictionally engage the player's body and any clothing in contact with the player's body underneath the protective vest, so as to provide the frictional engagement necessary for efficient energy absorption.