By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
Moms Football Safety Clinics have become an important part of the Arizona Cardinals organization. Led by community relations director Luis Zendejas, the events have engaged hundreds of moms in not just the Phoenix area, but in Mexico as well.
Zendejas, a former kicker in the NFL, USFL, CFL and the Arena Football League, had a goal when the year began to conduct 40 Moms Clinics between Arizona and Mexico. On Wednesday, he hosted another Moms Clinic at University of Phoenix Stadium in conjunction with NFL Network's "Head Up Football Across America" tour. The tour continues through Friday when it stops in Canton, Ohio, as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities.
Earlier this year, Zendejas talked with NFL Evolution about his goals for the year with the Moms Clinics and what it takes to involve all areas of the Cardinals organization in the program -- even when events are scheduled in another country.
What is the process when you have a Moms Safety Clinic in Mexico?
No. 1, we've been going to Mexico for the past 14 years that I've been in this role. We pretty much know all of the leagues that are out there. We know exactly where American football is being played a lot. ... We make a weekend of it (in Mexico). We do a kids camp and moms clinics (on a Sunday) and then we do a Heads Up Football clinic for coaches (on a Sunday).
What's the turnout when you have a clinic in Mexico?
We really don't want to do more than a 100 people, but usually the turnout is about 125-150 people. We don't turn away people, but we try to keep it around that number. That way our overflow is lower. Again, we teach them the whole thing: hydration, proper fitting, proper tackling, concussion awareness. It's just a things that moms need to look at. But what I like about the Mexico clinics right now is that we tag in their kids. They're the ones who teach their moms how to put on shoulder pads and helmets and do the drills with them.
What is different about putting on a Moms clinic in the U.S. vs. Mexico?
Nothing. We're going to do about 40 of them (in the U.S.). ... I believe so much in what we're doing based on the Moms Clinics and educating them in concussions, and the proper fitting and the hydration for the kids. (The moms) are the ones who are going to see their kids when they get home. If the kids are acting a little bit out of it or if they show symptoms of something having to do with concussions, they will know. So if we teach them a little bit, I think it's going to go a long way. In fact, a lot of the letters we get from some of the fathers are like, "Hey, you don't realize what you did. We're communicating about football at home all the way around."
So it's even the simple things like trying the helmet on, then the mom knows what it's like to have it on for two hours and know how much the shoulder pads weigh. In the (clinic) drills, they see what their kids handle when they go through practices and games.
It seems like it is easier for you to combine kids clinics and Moms Safety Clinics when you take these events to Mexico?
It is. Most of the dads are coaches and most of the moms there are with their kids, so we try to build it all together and make it a family event.
Whether they are in Arizona or Mexico, the Moms Clinics seem like something you truly are passionate about. How is football safety a crusade for you?
I really truly believe in this and that's one reason I tell you I would like to do no less than 40 of them this year here with some of our players. ... At every event I challenge every single (mom) to go out and get 100 people from their leagues, from their towns, from their little areas and we'll put a Moms Clinic on for you. ... This is awesome. I think what we're trying to do here is a good a thing for the family and for the kid. To see his mom, not just his dad, involved. You know, a lot of these moms we get are single parents and to see the mom involved like that makes me feel they are taking time to be part of their kid's sport and understand it. That's what I like about it.