Troy Vincent Sr. is the executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League and a five-time Pro Bowler. He also serves as the co-chair of Vision28, a partnership with the International Federation of American Football to lead flag football's inclusion in the 2028 Summer Olympics.
As a senior executive with the National Football League, a five-time Pro Bowler and a soon-to-be-inducted member of the College Football Hall of Fame, football has been part of my life since playing as a little kid in Trenton, New Jersey. The game has provided a great life for me and my family.
But let's be real.
In my era, the same opportunities — to compete and learn and thrive through football — were a pipe dream for people of a different gender, class, or physical condition.
There were no opportunities for girls to play high-level football. My mom could afford the basics for full-contact Pop Warner, even if the first mouthpiece she brought home for me was way too big. No disabilities prevented me from tackling or being tackled.
Because of my circumstances, society granted me access to football: tryouts, better equipment, camaraderie, and most crucially, coaching and mentorship, starting from my first day with the Morrisville Little Bulldogs.
Talent and work ethic enabled me to crack the starting lineup in high school, then college at Wisconsin, and finally the NFL. But above all, football taught me transferable life skills like resiliency, teamwork and communication. The sport provided a foundation for my growth as a young person, and for my future as a businessperson, husband, and father.
My life just wouldn't be the same without football. That's the truth.
That's why it's essential we get on the same page about flag football.
It's about time things change. Football should be for all.
Flag football is non-contact, low-cost, and quick to learn. Girls, women, people with disabilities, youngsters without the means to buy helmets and pads — anyone who wants to play football can participate. They can even aspire to an elite level.