Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones led a first-of-its-kind “Football Summit” at The Star on Tuesday. Seventeen influential football minds joined Jones for three hours to address concerns about the game, identify strategies to grow the game and communicate the benefits of the game.
“We’re just talking about the game,” said former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, the chairman of the National Football Foundation (NFF). “A lot of us are concerned about it, and I understand it. When I’m somewhere and a mother wants to talk to me about her son playing football, I get it. It got to the point five or six years ago where at every aspect of our game we were being negligent especially maybe about the concussion thing.
“I’m proud to say I think everyone has made some progress. There’s work to be done, but I can sit here and tell you I think we have a safer game.”
The Cowboys greeted SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker, Highland Park coach Randy Allen and Nike global sports marketing executive vice president John Slusher among others.
I’m proud to say I think everyone has made some progress. There’s work to be done, but I can sit here and tell you I think we have a safer game.
Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning
The Cowboys stated the goal of the summit was to “ensure that the virtues of character and competition that have made this game such a prominent part of our country’s spirit for nearly 150 years remain healthy, inspiring, and in the forefront of the minds and hearts of young athletes, parents, coaches, administrators and fans.”
“There’s kind of a lot of conversation about how do you bridge the sport from when a young boy first starts playing all the way up through high school and then to college,” said Jeff Immelt, the chairman and CEO of General Electric who played football at Dartmouth.
“How should the rules be different? How do you play seven-on-seven or change the size of the field and make it safer and more let’s say contextually appropriate as the time goes on in terms of how you elevate yourself into the game?
There are things you learn, and teamwork is one of them, and hopefully you learn some habits for life in terms of judgment and other things through sports that I think are valuable.
Michigan State President Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon
“Then, how do you a better job of outreach in the communities with mothers and linking them up with coaches on what’s the right way to think about the safety of the game and the physical fitness of the game and things like that.”
Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, the president of Michigan State and an NFF board member, expressed surprise at the data showing the lack of physical activity by America’s youth. It was worse than anticipated.
“This activity is good even if you don’t end up playing college football or pro football,” Simon said. “There are things you learn, and teamwork is one of them, and hopefully you learn some habits for life in terms of judgment and other things through sports that I think are valuable. It’s one of the reasons in my career I’ve fought so hard to give women the opportunity to play sports, because there are these intangibles that are very important.
“You have to do those in the most safe fashion and in a way that helps people to grow as human beings, and then they also get better as football players.”