Professional flag football now has the official support of the NFL.

The American Flag Football League, which hosted a 2017 pilot game starring Michael Vick and other former NFL veterans, has reached a broadcast agreement with NFL Network, learned this week. As part of the deal, NFL Network has agreed to air 11 live AFFL games in 2018, when the upstart flag league will host its U.S. Open of Football Tournament.

"Today marks great progress for football fans and players," Jeffrey Lewis, founder and CEO of the AFFL, said Wednesday. "As the first-ever broadcast and distribution deal focused on bringing the game of flag football to the broadest possible audience, we are thrilled to partner with NFL Network, the premier platform for football."

The deal between the AFFL and NFL Network, which is owned by the NFL, means 11 different games from the AFFL's inaugural tournament, once deemed by Lewis the "American Idol" of flag football, will be seen on TV between June 29-July 19. Highlights of additional games, with commentary from to-be-announced NFL Network talent, will also be shown as part of the agreement.

"Football fans are passionate about having continuous access to entertaining football content all year round," said Mark Quenzel, the NFL's senior VP of programming and production. "AFFL games on NFL Network will give viewers a chance to experience a new kind of football competition in the summer months, and we're excited for the opportunity to deliver more live programming that fans enjoy."

After a test game in San Jose in June 2017, with appearances by Vick, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Jimmy Clausen and Justin Forsett, the AFFL announced its U.S. Open of Flag Football for Summer 2018. With Lewis, the league founder, looking to capitalize on the intimacy and speed of flag football, the open-registration tourney is set to pit 128 different teams against each other for a chance to win $1 million in a final against one of four pro teams led by Vick, Forsett, Johnson, ex-NBA stars Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson, and former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson.