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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Aspen Institute Ponders Future of Football

Updated: Oct 12, 2018

Aspen Institute Ponders Future of Football

The Aspen Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, convened eight panelists last Thursday, January 25, for a two-hour discussion titled, "Future of Football: Reimagining the Game's Pipeline."  Here are a few bites from the panel....

From Tom Green, head football coach and athletic director, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Greenbelt, Maryland:  "In a lot of areas, you can only practice with full pads two days a week.  I think you can reduce that to one day a week.  Kids don't have to hit every day.  Educate coaches and mandate that we limit the contact." 

From Domonique Foxworth, former DB, Baltimore Ravens, former president of the NFLPA:  "Those type of restrictions are important because it takes pressure away from coaches who think, 'If we aren't practicing for three-and-a-half hours, the other team is, so we're falling behind.  And if we're not hitting as much as the other team, somehow they're  going to be tougher than us.'"

Coach Green reminded the importance of wearing soft-shell headgear anytime players are not in helmets:  "We play 7-on-7 in the spring.  You can't wear equipment.  I found that we've had more concussions in spring ball than in tackle football -- kids running full speed, defensive backs going for interceptions, receivers going for the ball, head-on-head collisions, kids hitting the ground.  So there still needs to be mandates for that as well, to keep it safe, because the bigger and faster kids get, the more chance they'll get injured."

The discussion occurred in a week when legislators from New York and Illinois offered bills to ban under-12 contact football.  Panelist Chris Borland, former LB, San Francisco 49ers, said:  "I'm somewhat incredulous that we even discuss the reasonableness of hitting a 5-year-old in the head hundreds of times per season.  It baffles me....  I don't know why youth tackle still exists."

More Reaction from San Antonio Clinic

Mr. O'Neil, 

I had the privilege of hearing you speak in San Antonio at the Army All-American Game coaches clinic.  First I want to thank you for your efforts to make the game of football safer for young men.  I think your work may be the answer to saving the game of football.  Football has so many positives and teaches so many lessons but the health risks can no longer be ignored.  I am convinced you offer very positive practice options. 

During your talk you asked that we contact you if we would like a copy of the video presented at the clinic.  I think this would be instrumental in demonstrating Practice Like Pros to our players and coaches.  Thank you again for all of your help.

Chris Yeager Head Football Coach Mountain Brook High School Birmingham, Alabama

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