In the first stop on his tour of the state of Ohio, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined with Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer Thursday for the 2013 Moms Football Safety Clinic at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Goodell said the goal of the clinic, which was attended by approximately 350 mothers, was to teach them about the steps that the NFL is taking to make the game of football safer.
“The impetus is USA Football, and trying to make sure we provide the information to moms who make most of the decisions in our households about all the things that they’re hearing about,” Goodell said. “To give them a better education, a better sense of what we’re doing in football to make the game safer and where they can go to get the right kind of information.”
Goodell called safety “the number one priority” in any sport and said he was optimistic about the direction of football.
Stations were provided at the clinic that were meant to give participants both a hands-on experience as well as give them the opportunity to ask questions. An equipment fitting seminar showed how helmets and shoulder pads should ultimately fit on a player’s body, and a series of tackling drills allowed the mothers to get a chance to learn from OSU defensive coaches Luke Fickell, Kerry Coombs and Mike Vrabel.
Meyer said that Commissioner Goodell did not even need to finish asking what his opinion was on whether or not the NFL could start their safety program at Ohio State before he told him yes.
“He (Goodell) is protecting our game, and I think he’s doing a great job of it,” Meyer said. “Ohio State’s proud to be a part of it.”
Meyer said he thinks the game is going to see a big change, especially since the NCAA’s passing of its new targeting rule that gives referees the ability to eject any player that leads with their head to make a tackle or block. He called it a “game changer” and made reference to last season, saying how different things would have been had the rule been implemented then.
“There’s a handful of plays that our players would have been thrown out of the game last year,” Meyer said. “I’m not arguing it if it’s for players’ safety, but we just have to coach it.”
When training camp opens Aug. 4, Meyer said one of the first things he and his staff will do is to re-teach tackling techniques. Every player will also have a video provided by the coaches on their iPad that shows the proper fundamentals of tackling.
Upon completion of the drills, the mothers got a chance to ask both Meyer and Goodell questions as well as take photos and get autographs.
Goodell said the goal is not to take away the aggressiveness the sport provides, but to just do what they can to make is as safe as can be.
“The game of football is a tough game, and we love that aspect of it,” Goodell said. “But it can be played safer, and that’s what the emphasis was today.”