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NFL celebrates USA Football Month with launch of USA Football's Heads Up Football initiative

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For the fourth consecutive year, the NFL and its 32 teams recognize USA Football as the sport's expert in youth player development and coaching education, highlighted this year by the launch of Heads Up Football, which emphasizes a smarter and safer way to play and teach youth football, including proper tackling and taking the head out of the game.  

Heads Up Football information, including how to teach proper tackling skills to youth players, is available at no cost at usafootball.com.

USA Football Month will be promoted and celebrated leaguewide throughout the NFL's preseason as youth football leagues across the country return to play.

Indianapolis-based USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its teams and the NFL Players Association. The NFL will promote USA Football's Heads Up Football program during nationally televised preseason games, through in-stadium banners and field stencils and digitally on team websites.

Funded by the NFL, Heads Up Football incorporates USA Football's nationally accredited online coaching education program. USA Football has trained more than 80,000 volunteer youth coaches since 2007. Its curriculum covers football's fundamentals and player safety content, including concussion awareness and management protocols, player hydration and proper equipment fitting. USA Football has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote safer play since 2007.

A free Heads Up Football mobile application from usafootball can soon be downloaded for iPhone and Android devices, placing player health and safety information – including CDC concussion protocols – into the hands of coaches and parents everywhere on demand. The app incorporates all Heads Up Football elements, concussion management, equipment fitting, hydration, tackling fundamentals and more.

Through Heads Up Football, a Player Safety Coach position is being piloted this season, working with one youth league each in California, Indiana and Virginia. Based upon the success of the pilot program, this position will be introduced on a national level in 2013. Player Safety Coaches are trained by USA Football at no cost to direct coaching education and CDC-approved player safety protocols within their youth leagues, working with and instructing league commissioners, coaches, parents and players. In addition to education, the Player Safety Coaches will provide on-site assessment, verification and monitoring to improve youth league accountability.

"USA Football and the NFL continue our commitment to place great care and emphasis on player safety for the more than 3 million children who enjoy the fun and inherent team-first values of our game," USA Football Executive Director SCOTT HALLENBECK said. "Through our Heads Up Football program, we are determined to make youth football even better and safer for our kids, and we encourage all youth sports to share this commitment with us."

"The NFL and its teams are pleased to join USA Football in placing the health and well-being of our children first when it comes to safer play," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We share USA Football’s emphasis on player safety. We strongly endorse how Heads Up Football supports, instructs and strengthens the sport at its foundation, namely the coaches and parents who give of themselves for a better and safer game for their kids."

Heads Up Football also aims to evolve the sport’s tackling instruction and terminology. Players who are taught tackling skills through Heads Up Football will "dip and rip" – making contact in an ascending motion powered by legs and hips while ripping their arms upward around the ball carrier. Heads Up Football continues the sport's evolution and encourages coaches to avoid tackling instruction such as "bite the ball" or "head across," which places a player’s head in the line of contact.

USA Football Month also incorporates the following:

·         Youth football scrimmages in NFL stadiums prior to or during halftime of preseason games

·         USA Football messages promoting better and safer play to be read during nationally televised preseason games

·         NFL teams donating approximately 100,000 preseason game tickets to youth football leagues

·         USA Football-branded on-field stencils and Heads Up-branded end zone banners in NFL stadiums

·         USA Football-branded in-stadium scoreboard video messages

Approximately 3 million children age 6-14 play organized tackle football in the United States, placing the game among the country’s most popular youth sports. More than 400,000 American adults volunteer their time to teach and coach youth football each year.

USA Football and the CDC have worked together since 2007 to deliver concussion awareness and management information to America's youth sports community. Player health resources, including videos about concussion education, hydration and equipment fitting, are available at www.usafootball.com at no cost.

About USA Football

USA Football, the sport's national governing body in the United States, hosts more than 80 football training events annually offering education for coaches and game officials, skill development for players and resources for youth football league commissioners. 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 competition and awards $1 million annually in equipment grants to youth and high school football programs based on merit and need. Endowed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association in 2002 through the NFL Youth Football Fund, USA Football is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.

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