NFL, Nike collaborate to kick off high school football season

NFL, Nike collaborate to kick off high school football season


NFL, Nike collaborate to kick off high school football season


The crash of the helmets. The smells of cheap hot dogs. The blaring of the official’s whistle. And now, for the first time, the sights of decor and inflatable tunnels from the collaboration between NFL and Nike draped across stadiums throughout the country.

High school football is back, and the NFL and Nike have partnered to put together a kickoff event that will have 20 teams play host to schools, and two games take place at the Ronaldo Field at Nike World Headquarters in Oregon.

On Friday night, the boys football game between DeSoto High School (Texas) and St. Augustine High School (New Orleans, La.) and the girls flag football game between Tampa, Fla. schools Alonso High and Robinson High at Nike HQ will headline the event and be broadcast on NFL Network.

“It’s a good outreach opportunity to reach teens and communities,” said Roman Oben, NFL vice president of football development and former offensive tackle in the league.

“In the seven-plus years that I’ve been in this, I haven’t seen a greater time where the NFL teams have worked together and worked at being thematically and directionally aligned. The work that we’ve done with Nike has improved,” he said. “When you listen to people and figure out what they really need, it’s not a logo slap … It’s something that everyone’s engaged in; it gets everyone involved.”

While the games will not take place at NFL stadiums, teams are getting involved in other ways.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Several high-level executives and players of the Washington Commanders will attend the local Friday game, including co-owner and co-CEO Tanya Snyder, president Jason Wright, head coach Ron Rivera, plus Carson Wentz and Terry McLaurin.

And the New York Giants hosted a pair of youth teams—Manville Jr. Mustangs (N.J.) and Mt. Vernon Razorbacks United (N.Y.)— during a preseason game last Sunday. Beyond the on-field experience, each team had also received $10,000 in disaster grants over the past few months from the Giants and the NFL Foundation, a helping hand to assist in overcoming hurricane disaster and unfortunate vandalism.

The NFL and Nike are also emphasizing their outreach to girls flag football players with this event.

“Girls want to play,” Oben said. “It’s a movement that’s already happening. We have to just continue to be smart and diligent enough to continue to create these opportunities. These girls not only become fans and players of the game, but they become moms who let their kids play, they become coaches, and you’re seeing women officials and you’re seeing women in the sports business.”

In general, high school football continues to grow and improve as a sport. Advancements in technology, training and football education led to a sport for Oben’s sons, who are now in college, that was an evolved version of what he played in during high school.

“The high school game, college and pro game is starting to become more aligned in terms of what players are being required to do,” he said. “You watch a football game from 20 years ago, and you watch one now … a high school game right looks like you’re watching a Div. II college football game.”

Nike and the NFL hope their efforts can help the sport continue to grow and encourage players to continue playing toward the next levels of the game.

Kickoff for the event is Friday night.

The NFL teams participating are:

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Denver Broncos
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Houston Texans
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • New Orleans Saints
  • New York Giants
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Washington Commanders

Graphic: Courtesy of NFL


More USA TODAY High School Sports