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Former Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens center MATT BIRK has been named director of football development, the National Football League announced today.
Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, was a standout center for the Vikings and Ravens from 1998-2012, concluding his career by helping Baltimore to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. He spent the 2013 season working as an NFL-NFLPA appeals officer.
In his new role, Birk will assist in developing the game at all levels of the sport, from players to coaches to front office personnel. He will also assist in the administration of NFL game day operations.
Birk will guide the continued evolution of the Scouting Combine and Regional Combines as well as the annual all-star games for aspiring NFL players, such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.
“I’m very excited to begin this next chapter of my football career,” says Birk, who becomes the eighth former player to take a job at the NFL office, joining Merton Hanks, Dwight Hollier, Patrick Kerney, James Thrash, David Tyree, Troy Vincent and Charles Way. “It’s a real honor for me to be entrusted with developing the game in so many different ways.”
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Birk will play a leading role in the continuing evolution and emergence of the Career Development Symposium, oversee the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program and NFL-NCAA Future Football Coaches Academy initiative.
“Matt’s experience as a terrific NFL player, a model citizen in his community and a reputation as a forward-thinking leader make him ideally suited for this role,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. “There is no doubt he will continue to make a positive impact on our game and be a trusted advocate for those who play and coach at every level.”
Birk, who will also serve as a liaison for the Football Operations department on the international development of the game and assist in further strengthening the NFL High School Player Development program, will be based at NFL headquarters in New York.
A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in economics, Birk was the recipient of the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for his excellence on and off the field, including his commitment to emphasizing the importance of education through his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education).
Birk and his wife, Adrianna, are the parents of six children.
252 Current and Former NFL Players and Coaches Received Grants to Host Camps
The National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) kicked off its summer by granting $750,000 to 252 football camps through its Youth Football Camp Program. The camps are hosted by current and former NFL players and coaches for children across the country.
To qualify for a grant, the football camp must be a free, non-contact camp for children ages 5-18 with a focus on teaching proper technique and sportsmanship. All camp coaches must complete Coach Smart, an online education course with instruction on injury prevention, concussion awareness, and heat and hydration tips.
Among the recipients, 72 current and former NFL players and coaches are working with USA Football to host FUNdamentals camps this summer. All drills run at FUNdamentals camps are based on USA Football’s Player Progression Development Model, which ensures that participants receive training appropriate for their age. The USA Football FUNdamentals program is an official program of NFL PLAY 60 – the NFL’s campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes every day.
“The NFL Foundation is proud to support hundreds of current and former NFL players and coaches who are making an impact in their communities by hosting youth football camps,” said CHARLOTTE JONES ANDERSON, NFL Foundation chair and executive vice president of the Dallas Cowboys. “These camps provide children with an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of football in a positive and enjoyable environment that encourages physical activity.”
In addition to providing children a chance to have fun and develop new skills, some camps supported by NFL Foundation grants offer unique opportunities for the campers: Former coach DARON ROBERTS is providing a six-day intensive camp where athletes will receive football training and SAT/ACT tutoring from business leaders and college admissions staff; former player ERIC DICKERSON is basing his two-day camp around teaching the fundamentals of team building through sport; ROY MILLER (JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS) will host a camp near the Fort Hood military base in Texas for more than 400 children; and former player MARCUS STROUD has invited medical specialists to his Sacking Obesity camp to promote overall health and fitness.
For the complete release, click here
Former New York Giants fullback CHARLES WAY, who spent the past 14 years as the team’s director of player programs, has been named head of the NFL’s Player Engagement department, the National Football League announced today.
Way will replace Troy Vincent, who was promoted earlier this year to NFL executive vice president of football operations. Way played for the Giants from 1995 to 1999, also serving as the team’s player representative to the NFL Players Association. The following year he began his career in player support services.
In his new role, Way will oversee the continued evolution and implementation of a broad array of support programs and services for players and their families across the Prep, Life and Next platforms, including the Rookie Symposium, NFL Total Wellness, and career development programs. Way will work closely with NFL clubs, coaches and players to ensure that these league programs are both effective and fully utilized.
“Charles’ passion, knowledge and experience, both on and off the field, serve as a strategic addition to the NFL as we evolve our programs and services for players and their families at all levels of the game,” says ROBERT GULLIVER, NFL chief human resources officer. “By joining the league office, Charles will expand his impact by overseeing the programs and services that are provided to all NFL teams and players.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity to continue to advance the initiatives of the Player Engagement department,” says Way. “I am thankful to Ernie Accorsi for envisioning the importance and significance of the role I have had with the Giants and grateful for the support of John Mara, Steve Tisch, Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin in implementing and developing the programs we have instituted. We will continue to build on the foundation of NFL Player Engagement that has been established over the past 25 years.”
During his tenure leading player services with the Giants, Way was instrumental in developing new programs, including leadership training, professional development and team building. Most recently, he participated in the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at the United Nations to discuss the NFL’s impact on local communities.
Way resides in New Jersey with his wife Tahesha, an administrative law judge for the state of New Jersey, and four children. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Centenary College.
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About NFL Player Engagement
NFL Player Engagement assists players in reaching their highest potential on and off the field with guidance, support, and resources provided before, during, and after their NFL experiences. NFL Player Engagement works with three core audiences: Prep, Life, and Next. NFL Life and NFL Next reach thousands of current and former players and their spouses each year through programs and services focused on career development, financial and continuing education, as well as personal, psychological, and physical wellness. NFL Prep provides high school and college student-athletes of all sports with tools to help them succeed in life, focused on awareness, prevention, and education. More information can be found at www.nflplayerengagement.com.
As part of the NFL’s continuing effort to protect players from unnecessary risk, the use of non-standard/overbuilt facemasks will be prohibited for the 2014 season. The four players who wore them last year had medical exemptions and may apply again this year.
Recent research strongly suggests that non-standardized facemasks present particular safety risks and should not be used. Among other issues, those facemasks more frequently fail the certification tests conducted by NOCSAE, the organization that approves equipment. Helmets and facemasks must be certified by NOCSAE to be used in the NFL.
Research was conducted last year under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina and Dr. Erik Swartz of the University of
New Hampshire. Dr. Swartz concluded that: “While it may seem logical that adding additional bars to a football facemask would make it more protective, our research suggests that overbuilt facemasks could actually increase the risk of injury to both the player wearing it as well as to other players on the field.”
A summary of the research outlines four primary concerns, including noting that that added weight negatively affects the structural integrity of the helmet and also fatigues the neck extensors, may be seen here.
Based on this research, and consistent with the recommendations of the Competition Committee, the Owners’ Health & Safety Committee, the Player Safety Advisory Panel, and the
HNS Subcommittee on Safety Equipment and Playing Rules, non-standard or overbuilt facemasks will not be permitted on the field for the 2014 season.
Take a look here to view several photos of standard and “overbuilt” facemasks to illustrate the distinctions between the two. The latter are currently characterized by more bars, smaller spaces between the bars, and a generally larger coverage area.
No new medical exemptions will be granted unless the player demonstrates both a genuine medical need for use of a non-standard mask and that no other alternative will provide similar safeguards.
THREE NEW REFEREES, 13 FIRST-YEAR NFL OFFICIALS AMONG 2014 CLASS
The NFL roster of game officials for the 2014 season will include 13 first-year NFL officials – and three new referees – among the group of 119, the league announced today.
First-year official BRAD ALLEN will join the NFL as a referee from the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he has been a referee for the past nine seasons and was regarded as one of the best in college football. Allen has refereed several major bowl games, including the 2012 Rose Bowl and 2014 Sugar Bowl. Allen replaces veteran referee MIKE CAREY, who will join CBS Sports as a rules analyst.
Veteran NFL officials RONALD TORBERT and CRAIG WROLSTAD are also new referees in 2014, replacing retired referees SCOTT GREEN and RON WINTER. Wrolstad has spent the past 11 seasons as a field judge while Torbert has worked the past four as a side judge.
The 13 first-year NFL officials are all graduates of the NFL Officiating Development program, which is designed to train top college football officials in all aspects of NFL officiating.
“Our first-year officials were all among the best in college football, including Brad Allen, one of our new referees,” said NFL Vice President of Officiating DEAN BLANDINO. “Brad was an outstanding referee for many years in the ACC and we are excited about having him on the field. Ron and Craig have proven to be outstanding NFL officials and they also are ready to assume the referee position.”
For the complete release, click here
NFL, CLASS COUNSEL JOINT STATEMENT ON FILING OF REVISED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
The National Football League and counsel for the retired player plaintiffs announced today a revised settlement agreement in the NFL concussion litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In the revised agreement the NFL’s obligations under the monetary award fund will not be capped at any specified amount. This means that once the compensation program is established funds will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition.
The revised settlement agreement is the result of several months of intensive work under the supervision of presiding Judge Anita B. Brody and the Court’s special master, Perry Golkin. The parties are grateful to Judge Brody and Special Master Golkin for their guidance in helping to reach the agreement submitted for preliminary approval today.
Consistent with the settlement announced last year, the revised agreement provides a wide range of benefits to retired NFL players and their families, including a separate fund to offer all eligible retirees a comprehensive medical exam and follow-up benefits, and an injury compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS. Where the retiree is deceased or unable to pursue his claim, a family member may do so on his behalf. While actuarial estimates from both parties supported the $765 million settlement that was announced in August, this new agreement will ensure funds are available to any eligible retired player who develops a compensable injury.
“This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future,” said co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss. “This settlement guarantees that these benefits will be there if needed, and does so without years of litigation that may have left many retired players without any recourse.”
“Today’s agreement reaffirms the NFL’s commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation. We are eager to move forward with the process of court approval and implementation of the settlement,” said NFL Senior Vice President Anastasia Danias.
The agreement also provides that the NFL will set aside $10 million for education on concussion prevention, as well as pay the costs of providing notice to the class and for administration of the settlement. If the Court grants preliminary approval, retired players will be formally notified of the settlement, with a final approval hearing likely to occur later this year.