INDIANAPOLIS —More than 50 former NFL players will convene at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, May 8, to become trained as Heads Up FootballSM Ambassadors. They will participate in clinics that will reinforce tackling mechanics aimed at reducing helmet contact. The sessions also will feature education on concussion recognition and response and provide instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.
The clinic is part of Heads Up Football, a new nationwide USA Football pilot program for the 2013 season dedicated to making the game better and safer for youth players. The former NFL players participating in the clinic will work alongside youth leagues across the nation this fall as mentors, lending support to the Heads Up Football program and reinforcing a culture of safety in youth football.
Among the former NFL players participating in the Heads Up Football clinic are LAVAR ARRINGTON, KEITH BULLUCK,MERRIL HOGE,HARDY NICKERSON and JAKE PLUMMER.
USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams. More than 1,200 youth football leagues across the U.S., representing more than 250,000 players and 36,000 coaches nationwide, have committed to the health and safety of their young players by adopting Heads Up Football.
Heads Up Football is composed of five primary elements:
Heads Up TacklingSM
- USA Football's Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.
- All coaches within a youth program are trained to teach the game's fundamentals by completing USA Football's nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
Concussion recognition and response
- Coaches learn and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football's Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
- Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic and have them reinforced throughout the season.
Player Safety Coach
- Appointed by each participating Heads Up FootballSM youth organization, this individual is trained by USA Football to implement Heads Up Football's player safety protocols, including coaching certification, and conducts safety clinics for coaches, parents and players.
- Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.
Youth coaches of participating leagues will be trained in Heads Up Football techniques before leading their teams this season. Head coaches and assistant coaches are required to complete USA Football's accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course, which includes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols; proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting; and Heads Up Tackling techniques, which aim to take the head out of the line of contact and teach proper fundamentals.
Parents can help ensure their youth football players are participating in a better and safer brand of football by visiting www.usafootball.com. Youth leagues can register online today for Heads Up Football and to have their coaches certified.
"The health and safety of every youth player is USA Football's No. 1 priority," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "Heads Up Football is a significant first for our game and we are proud that former NFL players endorse it as Heads Up Football Ambassadors in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
"The support for Heads Up Football on all levels of our sport – from youth, high school, college and the NFL – shows an exciting and unified commitment to every player's safety that other sports can follow."
Heads Up Football is the future of the game. Through Heads Up Football, each youth league will nominate a Player Safety Coach to be trained by USA Football. Player Safety Coaches will implement and monitor Heads Up Football player safety protocols within the organization. They also work with league commissioners, coaches, parents and players throughout the season to provide on-site clinics and mentoring to employ coaching and player safety best practices. Parents are encouraged to be involved throughout the process to ensure their youth players are learning Heads Up Football skills.
In addition to the NFL and NFL Foundation, organizations that support Heads Up Football include the NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, American Football Coaches Association and Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Organizations that play youth football that have adopted or endorsed Heads Up Football include the United Youth Football League, National Police Athletic League, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Jewish Community Centers Association. The goal is to encourage all 10,000 youth football leagues across the country to sign up for Heads Up Football.
Former NFL players participating in the Heads Up Football Ambassador clinic at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, May 8:
Eric Allen; PHIL., N.O., OAK.
Roy Gerela; HOU., PITT., S.D.
Marty Moore; N.E., CLE.
LaVar Arrington; WASH., NYG
Jason Gildon; PITT., JAC.
Randall Morris; SEA.
Shawn Barber; WASH., PHIL., K.C., HOU.
Antonio Goss; S.F., STL.
Hardy Nickerson; PITT., T.B., JAC.; G.B.
Chris Bober; NYG., K.C.
Randy Gradishar; DEN.
Jake Plummer; ARI., DEN.
Casey Bramlet; CIN., ATL., MIA.
Ahman Green; SEA., G.B., HOU.
Mike Prior; T.B., IND., G.B.
Ray Buchanan; IND., ATL., OAK.
Al Gross; CLE.
Mike Richardson; CHI., S.F.
Keith Bulluck; TENN., NYG
Brian Hansen; N.O., N.E., CLE., NYJ, WASH.
Eugene Robinson; SEA. G.B., ATL., CAR.
Tony Casillas; ATL., DAL., NYJ
Merril Hoge; PITT, CHI.
Patrick Sapp; S.D., ARI.
Rosevelt Colvin; CHI. N.E.
Lester Holmes; PHI., OAK., ARI.
John Swain; MINN., PITT., MIA.
Steve Conley; PITT.
Garry Howe; PITT., CIN., IND.
Karl Swanke; G.B.
Marv Cook; N.E., CHI., STL.
LaMont Jordan; NYJ, OAK., N.E., DEN.
Reggie Swinton: DAL., DET., ARI.
Vernon Crawford; N.E.
Mark Kelso; BUF.
Ma'a Tanuvasa; DEN., S.D.
Buddy Curry; ATL.
Ralph Kurek; CHI.
Craig Terrill; SEA.
Anthony Davis; SEA, K.C., G.B., BAL.
Sam Madison; MIA., NYG
Jamel White; CLE., BAL., T.B.
Preston Dennard; LAN, BUF., G.B.
Tony Mayberry; T.B.
Erik Williams; DAL., BAL.
Troy Drayton; LAN, STL., MIA, K.C.
Ricardo McDonald: CIN., CHI.
Coy Wire; BUF., ATL.
Luther Elliss; DET., DEN.
Blaine McElmurry: G.B., JAC.
Vince Workman; G.B., T.B., IND. CAR.
David Fulcher; CIN., LAA.
Pete Mitchell; JAC., NYG, DET.
Paul Zukauskas; CLE.
USA Football's Heads Up Tackling technique was developed with contributions from USA Football's Tackle Advisory Committee, which includes Northwestern head coach PAT FITZGERALD, UCLA head coach JIM MORA, former NFL running back MERRIL HOGE, Miami Christopher Columbus High School head coach CHRIS MERRITT and sports psychologist DR. DAVID YUKELSON.
About USA Football:USA Football, the sport's national governing body, leads the game's development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams. USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competitions and awards more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies. Endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002, USA Football (www.usafootball.com) is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.