Peterson brings years of NFL front office experience to an organization that is struggling to find its role in football. Under the able leadership of ex Bill QB and Congressman Jack Kemp, USA Football has expanded the youth football program, developed official training, and obtained funding from both the NFL owners and NFLPA to fund the program.
The challenge to Peterson is to define how the program moves on from here. The obvious choice is high school football.
Even before the nation’s economy went into the dumper, many school systems especially those in the inner cities were struggling to fund and operate football programs. Sports is a way to introduce values to young children that include working together, personal responsibility for their actions, working for a group goal, and the necessity of preparation for obtaining success. Public education has failed our children in so many ways that it can ill afford the loss of sports.
A second area of possible contribution is semi-pro football. The elimination of the NFL Europe has removed a major training ground for coaches, refs and players. Semi-pro football is a way that players can get better and get noticed. In my coaching career at the semi-pro level, I had the opportunity to send players to the NFL. Semi-pro ball gives players that come out of college without the chance to go to an NFL training camp a second chance.
There is a much larger group of players that did not have a chance to go to college or the academic background to succeed there. These players should have a path to an athletic career that bypasses college. That path is semi-pro ball.
The two biggest problems that any high school or semi-pro team faces are insurance to cover injury for those involved and the equipment necessary to play. Both problems could be solved by USA Football. A national contract for insurance for each level could reduce the cost of coverage for a given team to the point that it would become affordable to the poorest of each type. USA Football could help underwrite the policy giving a much larger pool to help reduce the cost.
A national program for equipment could help reduce the cost of outfitting high school and semi-pro teams as well. Again, USA Football could underwrite a national equipment program that would greatly reduce the cost per player.
In both cases, USA Football could take a giant step toward providing opportunities for young men to profit from playing America’s game.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .