"Someone You Should Know" is a monthly series that will feature a representative from the football community. Each guest will answer questions around youth football health and safety and how he or she contributes to this key initiative.
We kick off the series with former NFL player Roman Oben, who is now the NFL's director of youth football.
Tell us about your specific role as the NFL's director of youth football and what this means for moms who have children who play football?
I want to engage as many moms as I can to celebrate the value of football participation and not always necessarily lead these discussions from a health and safety angle. There are systems in place, especially through USA Football's coaching certifications, and parent education curriculum that will minimize the anxiety that moms have about participation, but most importantly, ensure that all moms are more properly educated about all aspects of the game than ever before.
What is important for moms to know about deciding if their child should play football?
Moms should know that it's safer to play football now than any other time, but they have to do their homework by making sure their child is in a league whose coaches are certified. That gives their child the best chance for success.
What are some of the things that are being done to make the game safer for children?
There are proper protocols in place for heat acclimatization at the start of summer practices -- equipment fitting, tackling and blocking, and concussion recognition and return to play guidelines. I firmly believe at the NFL level, the new rules that address the safety and health of players trickle down to the collegiate, high school and youth levels.
Why is this work important to you as a parent?
It's important to show other parents, despite my football experience, that I still have to learn how kids are learning now in 2015. My credibility as an NFL player of 12 seasons and a Super Bowl ring gets everyone's attention, but my validation as a parent of two boys who play tackle football validates everything I believe in.
When you talk to kids, what is one thing you tell them that you believe is important for them to be successful both on and off the field?
There are multiple things: I tell them to focus on the process and not the end result. The "process" is where you learn about yourself, what you like, what you don't like, what you're good at, etc. I teach them the difference between dreams and goals. Goals are measurable: daily, weekly, monthly.
What is your favorite memory from playing football?
Believe it or not, my first year of JV football we went 8-1 and won our championship. That year was so much fun. That's when I knew I wanted to be a great football player. I still have that game ball.