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Volume 26 No. 135

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints are just one of the teams driving renewed interest in the NFL
Photo: getty images
Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints are just one of the teams driving renewed interest in the NFL
Photo: getty images
Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints are just one of the teams driving renewed interest in the NFL
Photo: getty images

The Chiefs-Rams "buzzing blockbuster" from Monday night was the "strongest proof to date that the biggest, most powerful sport in the country still reigns and towers above all," according to Brian Smith of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Saints QB Drew Brees is "playing out of his mind," while the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and Rams' Jared Goff "lead a collection of young QBs who have picked up where Peyton Manning left off." Fans and media are "not even discussing pregame protests" in '18, and the league "appears to be doing a better job of preventing concussed players from returning to the field." Meanwhile, the last two Super Bowls "were all-timers." Parity and the "promise of annual redemption have long driven the league’s success." Throw in a "long-simmering offensive explosion, and you simply have to be a hater to hate the state of pro football" in '18 (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/21).

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: In N.Y., Ken Belson notes the "points bonanza" around the NFL this season has been "magic for television ratings, which declined the past two years." This has "given the league a much-needed boost after several years of off-field controversies" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21). ESPN's Pablo Torre noted Monday's score "seems to be the NFL's dream," though not every team "can go out and do this." Torre: "This seems like a one-off, an extreme version of a trend as opposed to the trend" ("High Noon," ESPN, 11/20). ESPN.com's Dan Graziano wrote there is "no way" every NFL game is "going to be 54-51 from here on out, but the POSSIBILITY of a 54-51 game has bought a house at the end of the cul-de-sac and isn't going anywhere any time soon." Monday night "showed us the direction in which the NFL is heading, and has been heading for some time" (ESPN.com, 11/20).

NOT EVERYTHING IS GOOD: In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes games like Chiefs-Rams "can be more worrisome than wonderful." It has been established that "the days of teams who embrace defense first were gone." While an offensive explosion can be "intoxicating ... is it good?" Vaccaro: "Is it too good? Because honestly, it feels like the ice-cream quandary. A little ice cream is a fantastic treat. A lot of ice cream ... is an outstanding indulgence. Plowing through 10 gallons at a sitting is gluttonous and gross." Chiefs-Rams seems a "little gluttonous and a little gross" (N.Y. POST, 11/21). The AP's Barry Wilner wrote Chiefs-Rams was "fantastic fun," but the league's scoring spike "can also be seen as an indictment of how the NFL -- helped along by college football’s evolution -- has headed toward flag football" (AP, 11/20).

Flag football participation for 6-to-12-year-olds has increased 38% in the last three years
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Flag football participation for 6-to-12-year-olds has increased 38% in the last three years
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Flag football participation for 6-to-12-year-olds has increased 38% in the last three years
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Flag football has "become the fastest-growing team sport" in the U.S., thanks to "thriving leagues" in dozens of cities and towns across the country, according to Drape & Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Over the past three years, the "number of 6-to-12-year-olds playing flag football has increased" by 38%, to more than 1.5 million. That is "nearly 100,000 more than those who currently play tackle football," according to a Sports & Fitness Industry Association study. The flag football "shift has some high-profile supporters," such as Saints QB Drew Brees, who now "coaches his young sons' teams in a flag football league he co-founded, Football N America." Brees hopes his league will "help keep the sport he loves relevant." He said, "Every parents looks at football now and has reservations. I know I do. If parents feel like the only option is tackle, then there's a danger that a whole generation of kids may never be introduced to the game." Drape & Belson noted the NFL recently "pledged to give annual grants to 400 Boys & Girls Clubs for flag football programs to reach 100,000 players ages 6 to 18." The league also "uses its media megaphone to try to give flag football a higher profile." Few people "predict flag football will replace tackle football at the high school and college level anytime soon, but the game has taken hold in some of the sport's most traditional strongholds." Brees is "bracing for what he acknowledges will be a difficult discussion with his wife ... and his boys if they ask to play tackle." In the meantime, Brees "hopes Football N America, now in its second year and with leagues in 11 cities, can delay that conversation a while longer and perhaps lead him, and other parents, to a more informed decision" (NYTIMES.com, 11/20).