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NFL Health Update: Kickoff events feature new safety initiatives


NFL Kickoff events include focus on safety

As the NFL celebrates the return of football with kickoff events in Baltimore this week, activities also will include a focus on sports safety. More than 800 students from the Baltimore area will take part in NFL PLAY 60 youth football clinics alongside former NFL players. As part of the clinics, they will receive instruction on proper Heads Up tackling, and they will hear from medical experts on the importance of hydration, proper helmet fit and concussion awareness.

Later today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will join Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Sue Siegel, CEO, GE Business Innovations, at Under Armour headquarters in Baltimore to kick off the second portion of the Head Health Challenge. This portion of the Challenge is a $10 million initiative to find and fund products that can help diagnose and protect against traumatic brain injury. Boomer Esiason will host today's event, which also features Cal Ripken, Jr. (MLB), LaVar Arrington (NFL) and Steele Stanwick (Major League Lacrosse), Kelley O'Hara (National Women's Soccer League) and members of the scientific community discussing sports safety issues.

Arizona Cardinals help launch concussion education video game for young athletes

The Cardinals joined the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday to announce the launch of a concussion education video game geared at young athletes. The announcement was made as part of a long-term partnership between the three organizations that seeks to find ways to protect young athletes from head injuries.

The latest initiative is an interactive video game called Barrow Brain Ball, which educates young athletes on concussions. The game, geared toward children ages 8 to 12, is free. In addition, the Barrow Concussion Network is working to provide medical resources to AIA athletic trainers, provide pre-injury testing and post-injury treatment to athletes and conduct research on injured youth athletes, with the support of the Cardinals.

"Recognizing the high priority placed on safety in all sports, the Arizona Cardinals are proud to work alongside Barrow and the AIA to help protect young athletes," said Michael Bidwill, President of the Cardinals. "These are important and valuable initiatives, and we hope that other states will adopt the same standards that Arizona has created."

Commissioner Roger Goodell visits Connecticut Heads Up Football league

Commissioner Goodell visited Sullivan Field in Fairfield, Conn., on Wednesday. He spent time with the Fairfield Giants, where 200 Pop Warner football players were practicing Heads Up Football.

"We're trying to do it right at the NFL level," Goodell said. "If we don't tackle with the right technique, kids are going to say 'that's what I'm supposed to do.'"

Goodell joined the coaches and youth football players for on-field drills and took questions from a few dozen parents.

"Culture is always hard to change," Goodell said. "You are always going to have players who aren't going to necessarily raise their hand [to self-report an injury]. I would love to be able to say everybody is raising their hand immediately. … I would be naïve to think that's the case. I think, though, players are more willing to do it."

Former player Roy Williams comments on his role as Heads Up Football Ambassador

Former Cowboys and Bengals safety Roy Williams spoke with SiriusXM NFL Radio recently on his role as a Heads Up Football Ambassador. Williams will serve as an Ambassador to a league in Oklahoma, one that lost equipment during the tornadoes that hit the state earlier this year. As Williams told "Late Hits" hosts Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt:

"As a [Heads Up Football] ambassador, we are trying to make the game safer for our youth -- not using the head as a weapon. Basically we are teaching them how to tackle the proper way, keeping the head out the way and making sure you see what you hit. We are teaching the safer way to tackle."

-- NFL Communications

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