When the International Olympic Committee announced flag football would be among the sports added to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, the immediate question from many was whether NFL players would be allowed to participate.
The answer for now is “maybe,” with the NFL not ruling out the possibility but noting they have to work through some logistics before giving players the green light. NFL executive vice president Peter O’Reilly told Front Office Sports they’ve seen the desire from players since the announcement was made, but have to talk through everything to understand the risks, timeline of when guys would need to be available, and more.
“We understand the desire,” O’Reilly said. “We think it’s a great opportunity, because the player interest is real and palpable. There’s a desire to work through with these stakeholders and get to that outcome for July .”
“Clearly in the leadup to the announcement, and then [Monday], there was a lot of excitement, as you might expect, from great NFL athletes and NFL legends who love the idea of representing their country on an Olympic stage,” O’Reilly said.
The concern, of course, is with players potentially getting hurt in the summer leading into the season — although one could argue they’d be just as likely to get hurt doing individual workouts as they would playing flag football. Still, that’s going to be the thing they have to navigate with teams and the NFLPA (hence the “stakeholders” quote), but it would be very fun to see NFL players able to represent their countries on the Olympic stage.
Football players have never had that opportunity, and there are plenty of speedsters around the league who would be very fun to watch in a flag football setting. That said, NFL players would need to learn some new rules (like avoiding flag blocking) to be able to succeed at a sport that’s closely related but has some key rule differences to tackle football — but the new Pro Bowl flag football games offer a little introduction to all of that.