Gene Upshaw was ecstatic, Paul Tagliabue an engaged partner. It was 1998, and the NFL and its players union had just agreed to make one of the largest investments ever by a U.S. professional sports league to support players at the base of the pyramid upon which their lucrative enterprise was built: $100 million in all, through annual funding of the newly established NFL Youth Football Fund.
At the inaugural board meeting, Dan Goich, a former defensive tackle with the Detroit Lions and other teams in the 1960s and '70s who was at that point a school teacher, recalls asking Upshaw a defining question.
"Are we going to make a difference?"
"We have to try," responded Upshaw, the longtime executive director of the NFL Players Association, who passed away in 2008.
Soon, checks were being written to hundreds of organizations around the country. Grants went to NFL team foundations, urban high schools with glass-strewn fields, player development camps, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, even something called the Global Youth Championships. Goich's board was the Johnny Appleseed of sports philanthropy, except it roamed farther and planted more than one type of seed. By 2002, Tagliabue and Upshaw were so pleased about the impact of the NFL Youth Football Fund that they agreed to extend and increase their annual payments in 2004, committing another $75 million.
Then in 2007, abruptly, if quietly, the spigot shut off. The NFL, which controlled the money, stopped funding the fund.
"We certainly asked why," said Jason Belser, NFLPA spokesman. "They expressed that things weren't going well in the market. A couple of years later, we had meetings to fund it again."
But no contributions ended up getting made.
Now, with youth football in peril due to the health and safety concerns of parents, the piggy bank is almost empty. An ESPN review of tax forms for the non-profit NFL Youth Football Fund shows that nearly all of the $175 million endowment has been spent. Forced to dip into its reserves after NFL support was halted, the foundation saw its assets fall from $84 million in 2006 to $19 million in 2010, the most recent tax year on file. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said another $13 million will be drawn from the fund this year.
Aiello declined to say how much money -- if any -- will be left in the fund after the latest checks are written, only that the NFL is in a period of "re-assessment" and will continue to support the grassroots program.
Read more at ESPN
NEW YORK--New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for the 2012 season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was banned indefinitely on Wednesday because the team's players were paid bounties for big hits on opponents from 2009-11.
The NFL said it is the first time the league has suspended a head coach. The explanation for Payton's ban indicates he tried to cover up what the Saints were doing.
According to the NFL, Payton ignored instructions from the league and Saints ownership to make sure bounties weren't being paid. The league also chastised him Wednesday for choosing to "falsely deny that the program existed," and for attempting to "encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to `make sure our ducks are in a row.'"
by Sergio Bichao, The Courier News
He measured 6 feet 6 inches, weighed 280 pounds, and was light on his feet.
The Somerville High School senior had been groomed for the varsity team since his freshman year and was excited to play "quick guard" and offensive tackle for the Pioneers.
But instead of helping his team to victory and impressing college recruiters, the student athlete spent most of the season on the bench and on a psychiatrist's couch, according to a lawsuit that claims the school's longtime coach bullied and retaliated against the player when he refused to play with an injured leg.
The lawsuit, filed by the family in state Superior Court in Somerville in December, names the Somerville Board of Education and head coach Greg Arakelian as defendants.
Read more at tusconcitizen.com
I've come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.
No, I've come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.
Who among us is this selfless?
Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.
Read more at espn.com
|Bellmore-Merrick Basketball League||Jan 15|
|Liverpool Youth Lacrosse||Jan 16|
|Scarsdale Parks & Recreation Department||Jan 16|
|Cortlandt American Little League||Jan 19|
|92nd Street Y||Feb 10|
|Upstate Lacrosse Association (Jamesville)||Feb 11|
|Kensico Little League||Feb 13|
|Nassau P.A.L. Lacrosse (Farmingdale)||Feb 26|
|Town of Ogden||Feb 26|
|Upstate Lacrosse Association (Tully)||Feb 27|
|Upstate Lacrosse Association (Camillus)||Feb 28|
|Port Dickinson Youth Association||Mar 1|
|Mechanicville-Stillwater Little League||Mar 2|
|Nassau P.A.L. Girls Lacrosse (Garden City)||Mar 2|
|Port Jervis Soapbox Derby||Mar 4|
|Watertown Parks & Recreation Department||Mar 5|
|Amherst Parks & Recreation Department||Mar 6|
|Kensico Little League||Mar 7|
|Nassau P.A.L. Lacrosse (Farmingdale)||Mar 7|
|Upstate Lacrosse Association (Jamesville)||Mar 7|
|St. Hugh/St. Elizabeth Baseball||Mar 11|
|Merillon Athletic Association||Mar 12|
|Town of New Castle Department of Parks and Recreation||Mar 13|
|Mahopac Sports Association||Mar 14|
|Riverhead Little League||Mar 14|
|District 34 Little League||Mar 16|
|Walton Little League||Mar 16|
|Edgemont Youth Lacrosse||Mar 19|
|Kensico Little League||Mar 20|
|Nassau PAL Lacrosse (Cold Spring Harbor)||Mar 21|
|East Side Little League||Mar 23|
|Jesse Collyer Little League||Mar 23|
|Lafayette Community Council/South Onondaga Athletic League||Mar 23|
|Colonie Little League||Mar 25|
|District 4 Little League||Mar 25|
|District 4 Little League||Mar 26|
|Upstate Lacrosse Association (Jordan-Elbridge)||Mar 26|
|Deposit Little League||Mar 30|
|District 8 Little League||Apr 2|
|Nassau PAL Lacrosse (King's Park)||Apr 2|
|SUNY Cortland Rec 280||Apr 2|
|East Greenbush-Castleton Little League||Apr 9|
|Town of New Castle Department of Parks and Recreation||Apr 9|
|Webster CSD Community Programs||Apr 10|
|Mahopac Sports Association||Apr 11|
|The Sandlot Sports Academy||Apr 15|
|Scarsdale Parks & Recreation Department||Apr 16|
|Bainbridge Youth Sports||Apr 17|
|West Islip Little League||Apr 17|
|Spencerport Soccer Club||May 5|
|Town of Hamlin Recreation Department||May 11|
|Monroe County Baseball Region||May 15|
|Nassau County Youth Football League||May 20|
|Upstate Lacrosse Association (Baldwinsville)||May 23|
|SCORS of Monticello||June 8|
|Nassau County Youth Football League||June 17|
|Elmira Small Fry Youth Football League||June 22|
|Fremont Area Youth Football||July 9|
|Greene Youth Football||July 11|
|Nassau County Youth Football League||July 22|
|Orange County Youth Football League (Highland Falls)||July 29|