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Saturday, February 24, 2024
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NFL Open To Active Players Joining Olympic Flag Football

  • League to work with union, governing bodies to create participation pathway
  • Robust player interest called "real and palpable"
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — The NFL is encouraging active players to participate in flag football’s newly approved inclusion in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, calling it the “pinnacle” of the sport on the global stage.

Responding to a Front Office Sports question at fall league meetings in New York, NFL executive vice president Peter O’Reilly said the league will be working with key entities such as the NFL Players Association and national governing body USA Football to create a pathway for players to compete in those Games.

“We understand the desire,” O’Reilly said. “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].”

O’Reilly’s comments amplify those made recently by current stars such as Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill and former league standouts such as Rob Gronkowski and Dez Bryant, all of whom have been public about their desire to play in the Olympics.

“Clearly in the leadup to the announcement, and then [Monday], 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,” O’Reilly said.

Such a move would bring the NFL more in alignment with other leagues such as the NBA and NHL, which have featured its top athletes in the Olympics for many years. With baseball’s reentry into the 2028 Olympics, dialogue has resurfaced for potential MLB player participation. 

O’Reilly said the league intends for the debut Olympic flag football tournament to coexist on the calendar with NFL team operations such as training camps. To that end, the majority of the July 2028 dates for the Los Angeles Olympics will likely occur before the veteran training camp reporting dates for NFL teams.

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