NFL Players Have “Real” Interest in Playing Flag Football at ’28 Olympics

An NFL executive called player interest in participating "palpable"

October 18, 2023 1:49 pm
Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins.
Tyreek Hill is open to playing flag football in the Olympics.
Megan Briggs/Getty

Now that he’s done lining up across from defenses in the National Football League, seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady is making it known that he thinks the level of physicality in the NFL isn’t what it once was. Brady, who would consistently draw penalty flags if someone as much as sneezed on him, went so far as to compare the NFL to flag football on a recent episode of the “Let’s Go! podcast that he hosts with Jim Gray and Larry Fitzgerald.

“Football is a physical sport, there’s a physical element to all of this,” he said. “You throw a 15-yard flag for something that, you know, 20 years ago maybe wouldn’t have had a flag. That affects the game in a big way. There’s so many people that want it less and less physical, it’s more like flag football, which is going to be in the Olympics in 2028. Maybe football goes to flag football over a period of time.”

Maybe it will — and we will have a preview of what it may look like when the Los Angeles Olympics welcome flag football as a sport in 2028, Brady mentioned. Speaking at the NFL’s fall meetings in New York earlier this week, executive vice president Peter O’Reilly said the league will be working with the NFL Players Association and USA Football to create a system that will welcome pro football players to compete in the Games in ’28.

“We’re committed to growing flag football around the world,” O’Reilly said. “The Olympic decision accelerates that. We do see it as a long-term commitment as we move forward. And it’s not just about 2028 and that July.”

According to O’Reilly, the league has already heard from players who are interested in being on Team USA in LA.

“We understand the desire,” O’Reilly told Front Office Sports. “We think it’s a great opportunity because the player interest is real and palpable. There’s a desire to work through with these stakeholders and get to that outcome for July [2028]. There was a lot of excitement, as you might expect, from great NFL athletes and NFL legends who love the idea of representing their country on an Olympic stage.”

Tyreek Hill, who is on pace to break the NFL’s all-time single-season record for receiving yards, might be one of the players O’Reilly was talking about as he called on his fellow NFL players to “bring one home” after the announcement about flag football was made. “You know how amazing it would be to assemble a superteam to play in the Olympics,” Hill later said on his podcast.

He probably won’t want Jalen Ramsey, who is currently his teammate on the Dolphins but wasn’t during last season’s Pro Bowl, making the American squad in ’28.

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