By Sgt. Michael LevertonDecember 6, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The National Football League and the Kansas City Chiefs welcomed more than 200 women for a mother-oriented football safety clinic Dec. 3 at the University of Kansas Medical Center Training Complex. Among those in attendance were military football moms from Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth and Whitman Air Force Base, Mo.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt hosted the event in conjunction with USA Football's "Heads Up" clinic, which was coached by former Chiefs players to teach moms health, safety and football techniques for their athletes.
"We want your kids to play sports," Goodell said. "We want them to do it safely."
Concussions and safety have been at the forefront discussion recently after former players were being diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and memory loss. These findings have contributed to recent rule changes in the NFL and have prioritized making the game safer at all levels of football.
The NFL teamed with USA Football in 2012 to start "Heads Up" as a way to teach young players proper football skills. This is the second time the NFL and USA Football have hosted such an event. The first was in October with the Chicago Bears.
"We are all concerned about our children," Goodell said. "The primary goal is to make sure the coaches, who supervise your children are educated and teach the proper techniques."
Goodell's wife, Jane, joined the conversation along with two NFL football moms Diane Long and Chris Golic to give local moms a firsthand perspective on life watching their Family members play football.
"They have been sitting in the cold, on the benches and sidelines of the games," Jane said of Long and Golic. "They know what that feels like."
Long, who is married to NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long, has two sons who currently play in the NFL. Golic is married to former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic of ESPN's "Mike & Mike" and is the mother of two sons who played football at Notre Dame. She talked about the benefits of the sport.
"The sense of camaraderie, the structure that football, or any sport, brings to a child's life is a great thing," Golic said.
The football moms were instructed by Chiefs alumni who gave a sample clinic on the proper positioning before a tackle and how to properly make a tackle. The goal was to teach moms what their kids should be doing on the field and to relieve them of some of the worry they go through.
"It makes it less scary for me," Berni Kappel, a Fort Riley football mom, said. "I (now) know there is a process and they're not just going out and hitting each other."
This was the first "Heads Up" clinic for Will Shields, former Chiefs offensive lineman. He said he liked getting back to the basic to teach kids and parents.
"I think this is re-educating us on the lost art form that we have put to the wayside," Shields said. "We're going back to baby steps and starting over."
The forum also gave participants the opportunity to talk to doctors from the University of Kansas Hospital, a University of Kansas Medical Center facility for athletes located by Arrowhead Stadium. Doctors took questions and gave information on concussions and proper hydration.
"I took away a lot of interesting information" Stacie Dumas, 1st Infantry Division family readiness program coordinator and football mom, said. "I talked to the doctors and they showed me different ways of get my son to drink water."
The commissioner closed the clinic by ensuring that safety is the number-one goal of all of those who take part in athletics, both now and in the future.