SBD/April 23, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Goodell Promotes Heads Up Football Initiative, Hopes 1,000 Youth Leagues Will Participate

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on "Live with Kelly & Michael" this morning to promote Heads Up Football, an initiative created by USA Football that is being rolled out nationwide this year pledging to teach a safer form of the game to youth participants. Co-host Michael Strahan, who is part of the program, noted it teaches "different tackling techniques starting from little kids so that they learn from the (grassroots) up." He said, "It's really interesting because so many parents are afraid to let their kids play football now.” Goodell said, "Already 30,000 coaches have signed up to be certified so that they know the proper techniques and they know how to teach young kids." He hopes to have 1,000 leagues "across the country ... signed up for this program." Goodell: "I hope people will let their kids play football, but make sure they're supervised properly” ("Live with Kelly & Michael," 4/23). The AP's Barry Wilner reports the program in addition to teaching proper tackling techniques will emphasize "concussion recognition and response; coaching certifications; properly fitted equipment; and coaches trained to implement Heads Up Football." Nearly 80 former NFLers, including Pro Football HOFer Barry Sanders, are serving as USA Football ambassadors, and they will "work alongside youth leagues, attending practices and games." Each league "nominates a player safety coach who is trained by USA Football in its Heads Up program." Those coaches will "implement the safety practices in their leagues and monitor player safety protocols within the organization." The program was launched in part with a $1.5M grant from the NFL Foundation (AP, 4/23).
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