When starting a new football league it helps to have names such as Lombardi and Brees in your corner.
We’ll find out in Nashville soon if it helps enough to make the league a success.
The league is the brainstorm ofDrew Brees, the New Orleans Saints veteran quarterback. He is concerned about concussions, the biggest issue facing football on all levels today.
He worries that parents will stop allowing their children to play contact football because of the risks involved, and that will eventually mean fewer will play on the high school, college and professional levels.
That’s why he created a co-ed flag football league for kids in kindergarten through middle school.
It’s called Football N America and John Lombardi, the grandson of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, is bringing the league to Nashville.
It will kick off in the spring with games played at Goodpasture Christian School. Lombardi will serve as the local commissioner.
“Drew’s got some younger children and they’re of the age where they’re playing flag football,” Lombardi said. “That coupled with his concern with all the concussion issues, he’s worried, and I share his concern, that football might have some issues in the future with kids not playing when they’re young and therefore not playing in high school, in college and on up into the pro ranks.”
Brees started his league in New Orleans. It already has spread into three other cities in Louisiana and to Carmel Valley, Calif. Nashville will be the sixth location.
“The league is designed so that kids can learn and play and get excited about it,” Lombardi said. “And learn those lessons that those of us who played football feel were important growing up.”
The hope is that by the time kids start playing full-contact football they will have learned the fundamentals and proper techniques that will limit the risk of injury.
Lombardi was a football operations director at Vanderbilt in the 1990s before becoming a scout for the Oilers when they moved to Tennessee and became the Titans.
Lombardi’s brother Joe is the quarterbacks coach for the Saints. Joe told John about Brees’ league and that is how a league was formed in Nashville.
The league’s games will be played on Saturdays with eight games guaranteed. There also will be a fall season.
There will be a local playoff and there are long-range plans for a national playoff after more leagues are established.
To sign up or for more information visit playfna.com.
Ex-Vandy receiver could be hired as Arkansas AD
Former Vanderbilt football player Derrick Gragg will reportedly be hired as the Arkansas athletics director. Gragg is currently the AD at Tulsa.
He played wide receiver at Vanderbilt (1988-91) for Gerry DiNardo.
He returned to Vanderbilt to work in athletic administration (1993-95).
Gragg served as senior associate AD under legendary Arkansas AD Frank Broyles from 2000-06.
Titans post season-low TV ratings
The Titans game last Sunday at Indianapolis earned the lowest local television ratings of the season.
The game, which the Titans won and was broadcast on Fox (WZTV-17), earned a 16.3 rating, according to WTVF-5 senior programming director Mark Binda.
The previous low rating was 16.5 for the game at Miami on Oct. 8.
It meant 168,004 Nashville households watched.
Rexrode, Walker and Weber up for state awards
Tennessean columnist Joe Rexrode and the Associated Press’ Teresa Walker are finalists for the National Sports Media Association’s Tennessee Sportswriter of the Year award.
Walker has won the last two years. Rexrode was the Michigan Sportswriter of the Year in 2015 when he was with the Detroit Free Press.
Predators radio announcer Pete Weber (102.5 The Game) is up for Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year along with Memphis Grizzlies television announcer Pete Pranica (Fox Sport Southeast). Weber has won the award five times.
Former Vanderbilt radio announcer Wes Durham, now the Atlanta Falcons radio announcer, is up for the Atlanta Sportscaster of the Year.
The winners will be announced in January.
Ex-Belmont star hired by Nike
Former Christ Presbyterian Academy and Belmont basketball standout Lauren Thompson is still wearing her Nikes.
That’s because she recently landed a position with the sneaker empire working in the digital department of the Jordan Brand in Beaverton, Ore.
Thompson, a four-year Belmont starter who graduated last spring, did her internship with Nike after her junior year.
Her father, Tim, is a Nike college sports marketing field director and radio analyst for Vanderbilt men’s basketball games.
Ex-TSU center cancels Thanksgiving plans to sign with Redskins
Former Tennessee State center Demetrius Rhaney gladly changed his Thanksgiving Day plans when the Washington Redskins called early last week.
They wanted the 6-foot-2, 301 pounder to step in for backup rookie center Chase Roullier, who had been benched with a hand injury.
Rhaney, 25, who worked out for the Redskins earlier in the season, signed in time for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Giants.
Rhaney was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Rams. He spent two seasons with the Rams and part of the off-season last year with the Jaguars.
Ex-Maplewood basketball star William Reed dies
William Reed, a two-time All-Nashville Interscholastic League guard, died on Nov. 22. He was 56.
Reed, a three-year starter at Maplewood, made the All-NIL team in 1978 and 1979.
In his senior season Reed, along with Lenny Manning, led the Panthers to the NIL and Region 6-AAA championships.
Ex-Vandy assistant, Tech head coach resigns at East Carolina
Former Vanderbilt assistant and Tennessee Tech head basketball coach Jeff Lebo resigned earlier this week as the coach at East Carolina. Lebo, 51, had led the Pirates to a 2-4 start.
He had been at East Carolina since 2010 and posted a 116-122 record.
Lebo was an assistant at Vandy on Eddie Fogler’s staff from 1992-1993 and landed his first head coaching position at Tech in 1998 where he stayed through 2002. He was the OVC Coach of the Year in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Ex-East Nashville guard sets ETSU record
Former East Nashville guard Erica Haynes-Overtonset the East Tennessee State record with 11 steals in the Bucs’ 96-68 win over Murray State on Wednesday.
The previous record was nine steals.
Haynes-Overton nearly posted a triple-double with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Ex-Litton and MTSU great G.E. McCormack dies
Former Litton and MTSU two-sport standout G.E. McCormack died on Nov. 22. He was 87.
McCormack played football and baseball at Litton and MTSU in the 1950s.
In his junior and senior seasons on the MTSU football team, McCormack, a starting end, helped lead the Blue Raiders to a 24-5 record and back-to-back OVC championships. He was named to the All-OVC and NAIA All-America teams as a senior.
As a baseball player in 1956 McCormack set the MTSU record for single-season batting average (.443), which stood until being broken in 2015.
He started coaching at Donelson High in 1958 and led the Dons to the state basketball tournament in 1961, 1962 and 1963.
In 1964 McCormack became the football coach at Maplewood and in 1965 guided the Panthers to their first winning record (9-2) and a win over Jackson North Side in the Exchange Bowl.
He was inducted into the MTSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
Personett is TPGA Player of the Year again
Personett, 53, who played golf at Glencliff and Lipscomb, won or tied for first in three of the 14 tournaments in which he played in 2017.
Tullahoma’s Jared Melson was the Senior Player of the Year.
Bryce Lewis is state’s top junior golfer
Hendersonville’s Bryce Lewiswas named the Tennessee Junior Golf Boys Player of the Year.
Lewis, the 2016 Tennessean Schooldays champion, played in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Bel-Air Country Club in California and the Junior PGA Championship in St. Louis during the summer.
He has committed to play golf at Middle Tennessee State.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
Sports on Nashville TV
The top five local ratings for sporting events from Nov. 20-26:
1. College football: Alabama-Auburn 19.9
2. NFL: Titans-Colts 16.3
3. NFL: Cowboys-Chargers 13.6
4. NFL: Saints-Rams 12.7
5. NFL: Packers-Steelers 12.4
Each rating point is equal to 10,307 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 senior programming director