Ex-NFL players become Heads Up Football ambassadors

NEW YORK -- With more than 900 youth football leagues having committed to the Heads Up Football program, USA Football and the NFL announced Wednesday that 77 former players will get involved in the program.

The announcement was made by USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the clinic for youth football players at Chelsea Park.

The 900 leagues encompass more than 200,000 players and 30,000 coaches in the United States.

The Heads Up Football program will now include NFL players ranging from Jake Plummer to Lavar Arrington as Heads Up Football ambassadors. These players will be working with youth leagues to reinforce the Heads Up philosophy.

The Heads Up program was created to promote a positive youth football experience for players, coaches and parents. It includes education of proper techniques and safety measures.

Among the other former NFL players who are set to be ambassadors are Carl Banks, Tony Casillas, Randall Cunningham and Barry Sanders.

"The health and safety of every youth player is USA Football's No. 1 priority," Hallenbeck said in a statement. "These leagues show exceptional dedication to their players, parents and coaches. Each of them is committed to the highest standards of player safety and coaching education in all of youth sports.

"We are proud to have them and our Heads Up Football Ambassadors be part of this program."

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson added: "As chairman of the NFL Foundation and as a parent of two young football players, I believe the Heads Up Football program is essential in making the game we all love safer for youth players. The program is also important for parents, providing resources for their kids to play the game safely and properly. The NFL Foundation is pleased to be supporting this important program."

"I'm proud to be a part of USA Football's Heads Up Football program," said Sanders, a Hall of Fame running back with the Detroit Lions. "Football is a fun game which offers so many rewards and instills countless positives for our kids when the game is taught correctly and coaches are prepared to teach. Heads Up Football accomplishes this. The program is changing for the better how youth football is played."

Here is the complete press release from Wednesday's press conference.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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