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NFL pushing for flag football in 2028 Olympics

Matt Johnson
NFL: LVI Super Bowl-Stadium and Field Preparation Press Conference
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While American football is the most popular sport in the United States and is gaining fan internationally, it has remained an afterthought when it comes to the Olympics. Now, the NFL is looking to change that.

American football has only been a part of the Summer Olympics twice in its history, with demonstration games played in the 1903 and 1932 Summer Olympics. However, each attempt to propose it to the International Olympic Committee for inclusion has been rejected.

The league is taking steps to try and change that. In partnership with the International Federation of American Football, league and international officials are reportedly laying the groundwork to try and introduce American football back into the Summer Olympics.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the NFL is developing inroads internationally with the goal of flag football one day becoming an Olympic sport. The league’s goals are quite ambitious, with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles viewed as a potential target for American football to return to the Olympic games.

It’s important to note that tackle football is not the league’s goal. Both for the safety of athletes involved and to create a more even playing field with more countries able to participate, it would be flag football.

““When we talk about the future of the game of football, it is, no question, flag. When I’ve been asked over the last 24 months, in particular, what does the next 100 years look like when you look at football, not professional football, it’s flag. It’s the inclusion and the true motto of ‘football for all.’ There is a place in flag football for all.”

executive Troy Vincent on the future of American football in the Olympics (via Pro Football Talk)

There is some positive momentum towards this happening, with Florio noting the World Games including flag football for the first time this year. It could be viewed as a trial run, with the long-term ambition of flag football finding its way into the Olympics.

While there are no details on whether or not NFL players would be allowed to participate, it’s highly unlikely. Not only would a majority of players want to preserve their health, but NFL teams wouldn’t want their key starters and reserves missing training camp to participate in flag football.

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Instead, if flag football is introduced, the IFAF would likely seek out semi-pro football players and just explore the country for the most athletic players who aren’t able to make rosters. For a young athlete looking to prove themselves, going from a pro spring football league to the Olympics might be a path to landing on the NFL’s radar.