NFL HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE -- DEC. 11, 2013
Q&A WITH AMANDA RODRIGUEZ, FOOTBALL MOM, BLOGGER, HEADS UP FOOTBALL
In addition to blogging for websites including DudeMom.com, iVillage.com and EverydayFamily.com, Maryland resident Amanda Rodriguez is the mom of young football players and a member of the Heads Up Football Advisory Committee. Rodriguez took on a new role with her son's team this year as a safety advocate, particularly in light of her growing knowledge of ways to help young athletes stay safer with Heads Up Football. Rodriguez answered some questions about her role with the team.
Describe your role as 'team mom' for your son's team.
I served as a parent advocate this year for my son's league. In my role I was a go-between for parents and coaching staff. I think the most beneficial element to having someone in this role is that those everyday questions and complaints that coaches get can be reduced. Parents don't need to run out on the field and ask the coach one more time about the signs and symptoms of concussion, or what the weight cap is for the team because I was sitting on the sidelines, accessible and informed about most of the concerns that parents have. I was also able to diffuse situations that would normally make their way to the coaches or up the chain to the commissioner just by being on the ground, with the parents, available to give them explanations, answer questions, and stop concerns before they blossom into bigger issues.
How did the role come about?
We were looking for a way to help coaches focus more on coaching while also allowing parents to be parents. It's natural to have questions and concerns about your child and the activities they are a part of, and we want to have a good connection with all of our parents. But with a program as large as ours with all volunteer coaches, time is an issue. Also, parents expressed concerns about being able to voice their opinions without fear of repercussion. They wanted freedom to speak their minds without being labeled as the "problem parent" or having their child lose playing time. Whether or not that is something that was actually happening, parents perceived it that way. The parent advocate gives them a relatively protected outlet for voicing their concerns.
How have you changed as a sports parent since you've learned more about head injuries and Heads Up Football techniques?
I am more involved now than ever. Before I became educated about Heads Up and other elements of football safety, I was timid about playing a role on my children's football teams that involved more than bringing cupcakes and sending a few emails. Now, I feel confident and empowered with my knowledge. My sons' coaches respect me more and that gives me confidence to do what I feel I need to do as a parent: help keep my kids and all of the children they play with safe.
What response have you gotten from other parents on the team since you started this role?
I'm not even sure most parents knew that I was the official person in charge of advocating on their behalf. It just sort of became the natural progression of things. Many discussions sort of just started with, "Hey, let's ask Amanda!" And, that's what we wanted from the upper levels. We wanted people to have a person on the ground, they could trust, who could also actually get things done. It was a trial period for us this year and we think it went pretty well!
NFL HOMECOMING CELEBRATES RETIRED PLAYERS' ACCOMPLISHMENTS
NFL Homecoming, a new campaign that recognizes the contributions of NFL greats, launched on Monday during the Cowboys-Bears game with the retirement of Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Ditka's No. 89 jersey. For the next two weeks, NFL Legends will return to stadiums across the country to be honored by their teams and connect with fans, former teammates and club personnel.
NFL Homecoming will recognize alumni who made contributions on the field and who are now making an impact in their communities. Former players taking part include:
Visit NFL.com/homecoming to view NFL Films content on legends returning home and interviews with former players about their favorite homecoming memories. A feature on former Washington Redskins player LaVar Arrington highlights his current work as a Heads Up Football ambassador and NFL Legends community ambassador as well as his induction into the Washington Redskins Ring of Honor this past November. Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell is featured in a video about his current roles as a high school coach and NFL Legends community ambassador that culminates with his return to Jacksonville for the Ring of Honor induction on December 15.
FORMER PLAYER BENEFITS
Here are some statistics on programs that provide benefits to former NFL players:
- Retired players have received more than $67 million through the Bert/Rozelle retirement plan in the past 12 months.
- In the same time period, former players' widows and surviving children have received more than $10 million.
- 276 applications have been approved under the 88 Plan since its inception in 2007.
- Since 2007, more than $28 million has been distributed through the 88 Plan.
Since its creation in 2007, the NFL Player Care Foundation has:
- Issued more than $5 million in grants to 536 former players to cover medical and housing expenses.
- Facilitated cardiovascular screenings for 1,696 former players conducted by the Boone Heart Institute and the Living Heart Foundation.
- Facilitated prostate screenings for 1,334 former players conducted by the Urological Care Foundation.
-- NFL Communications