Drew Brees is starting a flag football league to 'save the game of football'
The youth coed league will begin this year in Louisiana with the hope of spreading nationwide
As Brees prepares for his 17th NFL season, he's also busy starting a coed, youth flag football league called the Football 'N' America league. He says it could end up being "the premier youth coed flag football league in America."
He also said it could have the power to save the entire sport.
"I think that this has the opportunity to really save the game of football, honestly," Brees said, per ESPN.
The league will begin this fall in New Orleans and across Louisiana. It will then spread into other states next year. The hope is that it will eventually expand nationwide. Brees will personally help coaches with video tutorials and starter playbooks.
ESPN's Mike Triplett has more:
Brees and Stuart said they researched flag football and saw that void because they found there wasn't a lot of uniformity in youth leagues across the country. They also said they would also like to help create the type of family and community environment where games are a big event on Thursday or Friday night, followed by families going out for pizza together -- or heading to the big high school game later that night.
Of note: Brees practices a gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle, so pizza with Brees might not be the best idea.
Anyway, even if Brees' ambitions seem a bit too lofty, his line of thinking makes sense. Football is an inherently violent and dangerous sport. Take away the tackling and contact, however, and the sport becomes significantly safer. Concussions -- the biggest problem facing the NFL today -- would be dramatically reduced.
In the past few years, countless players have spoken out against the dangers of the game. Some players, most notably Chris Borland and Calvin Johnson, have retired early because of health concerns. Most recently, Hall of Famer Warren Sapp detailed how much his memory has slipped since he retired. A study in 2015 found that 87 out of 91 former NFL players had CTE.
In November, Dr. James Andrews said that if football were invented today, it would be outlawed.
"It's a collision sport," Andrews told Sports Illustrated. "If we started a new sport today and we wrote up the rules and regulations and we called it football, they probably wouldn't allow it. We're all trying to do everything we can to make football safer, but that's the way the sport is. There are always going to be injuries. We're aware of that, and we're all working to keep it that way. We want it to continue, believe me."
Brees said that he wouldn't let his kids play tackle football right now.
"I would not let my kids play tackle football right now because I don't think that's necessary and I don't think it's as fun at this level, and I just think there's too much risk associated with putting pads on right now at this age," Brees said.
So, that's why he's starting a flag football league.
"So how can I still allow them to enjoy the game and learn about the game and develop a passion for the game and enjoy everything it has to offer? Well, flag football," Brees said. "I think that flag football is the perfect alternative to the parents who have concerns about concussions and the injuries around football. Because you're still able to enjoy the game of football, but in a very fun, safe and yet competitive environment. And you can still learn all the same life lessons and values from a game of flag as you would tackle."
Another added bonus: It's coed, which should lead to more opportunities for girls to play football. Hopefully, some of these sort of highlights will emerge from Brees' league:
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