Heads Up Football event gets 176 moms active at Falcons camp

The Associated Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- Deanna Kathumbi-Jackson feels better about letting her young sons play tackle football.

"I wanted to hear a little bit more about safety as my children are going into tackle football as opposed to flag," she said. "I didn't know what they would teach us tonight, but this has exceeded my expectations."

Kathumbi-Jackson was one of 176 mothers who attended a youth football safety clinic hosted by the Atlanta Falcons at Kings Ridge Christian School on Tuesday night.

The purpose was to educate mothers on concussion symptoms, proper tackling techniques and correct fitting of helmets and pads as the NFL seeks to keep the sport growing amid lawsuits brought by former players during the last few years.

Falcons neurologist Kaveh Khajavi, USA Football Heads Up manager Michael Haynes and USA Football master trainer Buddy Curry spoke to the women about the different nuances of playing football safely.

Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation discussed dietary supplements and the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.

On the field, Falcons safety William Moore and former Falcons cornerback Bobby Butler were among 16 current and former players who showed moms how youngsters should lead with their shoulder pads instead of their heads when tackling.

Tuesday's event was part of USA Football's youth player safety program and one of many workshops held nationwide for its Heads Up Football initiative.

Curry, a former Falcons linebacker, works with his foundation, Kids and Pros, believes the NFL is doing what's necessary to show parents how they can best protect children in an often violent sport.

"I know it's making a difference," Curry said. "We're informing kids, parents and coaches to give them a different perspective to make better decisions. There's a lot of fear out there because a lot of people don't know the accurate information.

"What the NFL is doing is they're getting to the grassroots level. We're doing this all of over the state of Georgia to teach parents so we can calm some of these fears because the NFL does care."

Moore, who accumulated over $75,000 in fines for illegal hits last year, said the best way to change the sport is to teach kids early not to lead with their heads when tackling.

"The league is doing the right thing," he said. "Some of us who grew up playing the game were taught a certain way to hit, and the NFL is right to change the culture."

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.