NEW YORK – The Super Bowl may be the National Football League’s ultimate prize, but the NFL said Tuesday it wants to see its players go for gold on the Olympic podium after flag football was added to the schedule for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles had been added.
Flag football was one of five sports added to the program for the 2028 Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave approval on Monday. Cricket, lacrosse, squash and baseball-softball were also added.
The sport’s national governing bodies would have the final say on who gets to make the cut to compete for their country.
But NFL Executive Vice President Peter O’Reilly said the league would work with the NFL Players Association and all 32 clubs to clear a path for the stars of the field to have a chance to compete. the games.
“The Olympics are the pinnacle of global sports,” he told reporters at the NFL owners meeting in New York.
“There is a desire to work with these stakeholders to get to that outcome by July, in a period that is – at least in the first week – before the veteran reporting date” for 2028.
The sentiment differs from Major League Baseball, which opted not to release players to participate in the 2020 Games, citing the disruption to their season. Baseball-softball was left out of the 2024 Olympic program.
With 113 foreign-born players on NFL rosters as of Week 5, the league has a chance to be well represented when the season kicks off.
Some NFL players have already expressed interest in competing for the US team.
That could mean heartbreak for existing flag footballers, who have competed in relative anonymity for years.
“What LA28 put forward to the IOC was not based on NFL players,” O’Reilly said.
“I would never discount the talented flag footballers who practice this discipline.”
The Olympic podium could be a boon for the NFL, which is working to expand its global footprint.
The league included five international matches in its 2022 and 2023 schedules and awarded marketing rights for 26 international regions to individual teams two years ago in a bid to boost growth and fan engagement abroad.
The NFL has flag football programs in 13 countries and plans to expand around the world in an effort to reach as many of the 74 countries where the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) has existing federations.
“Flag football is… this accessible entry point into our game,” O’Reilly said.