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Olympic Flag Football Could Fuel NFL’s Global Ambitions

  • Olympic inclusion presents powerful combination of two existing league initiatives
  • Several current and former NFL players have expressed interest in competing
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has made no secret of its accelerating international ambitions, and it was also a fierce advocate for flag football’s inclusion in the 2028 Summer Olympics as part of the league’s broader participatory push.

Now, those two key initiatives could combine in powerful fashion.

Several current and former NFL players have already expressed interest in competing for an Olympic gold medal — something previously impossible in the sport — and they have the league’s support.

“Through this process, a number of great young stars of the league have said how great it would be to represent their country and play flag,” NFL executive vice president Peter O’Reilly told Reuters. 

Details have not yet been finalized, and the IOC still must grant final approval to the request of the LA28 organizing committee to include flag football, along with baseball and softball, cricket, lacrosse, and squash. It also remains to be seen how receptive some teams owners will be to having their top talent competing outside the existing NFL structure, even in a non-contact setting. 

But the inclusion of flag football offers up the possibility of creating “Dream Teams” in the sport — and not necessarily just with the U.S. squad. 

The 1992 men’s Olympic basketball team — the first Dream Team that included NBA players in the Olympics — helped fuel a meteoric rise in fan interest in that league, and a similar situation could develop for the NFL.

“Calling all @NFL guys, let’s bring one home,” said Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill on X, formerly known as Twitter. Hill is one of the NFL’s fastest players.

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