An 8-second video of a vicious training drill between two pint-size football players has gone viral. The video shows two kids, who appear to be seven or eight years old, engaging in a tackling drill.
The kid carrying the football gets a running start and lowers his head as he barrels toward the other kid who is supposed to try to tackle him. The child with the ball plows through the outmatched defender as their helmets collide.
The child who got hit appeared shaken up and struggled to get to his feet, as somebody in the background can be heard saying, "you're good."
Outrage over the video was swift, with several former NFL players speaking out against what they saw. Retired NFL linebacker Channing Crowder said the footage showed "child abuse."
"This is child abuse. I know dozens of all pro/hall of fame players that didn't play til they were 10+ years old. You aren't helping ur kids. Whatever coach set up this drill for these babies needs to be fired and I would like to do this drill against him on his way out," he tweeted.
Dan Orlovsky, who spent 12 years as a backup quarterback in the NFL, said that making two young kids do that drill was "one of the dumbest things I have ever seen in youth sports."
Shawne Merriman, who played eight seasons as a hard-hitting NFL linebacker, called the drill "ridiculous."
Pop Warner and USA Football condemned the video, saying drills like that have no place in youth football.
"We are deeply disturbed by this video and are investigating. If, in fact, it was Pop Warner coaches leading these drills, we will take action," Pop Warner spokesperson Brian Heffron told Fox News. "What we saw was dangerous and, frankly, offensive to the overwhelming majority of our coaches who teach the sport the right way. We expect every coach to adhere to mandated training and focus on the proper, safe progressions of tackling techniques, including practice against dummies, particularly at such a young age. Over the past 10 years, Pop Warner has instituted a number of player safety rules, and this example runs counter to our practices."
While the video just recently went viral, it was filmed in September 2020 during a practice sanctioned by the Wesley Chapel Weddington Athletic Association. The organization said that when they saw the video, they launched an investigation, which resulted in the termination of the coach involved.
"This drill occurred back in September 2020 on a team with a first-year coach in the program," Christopher Duggan, an attorney for the Wesley Chapel Weddington Athletic Association, told USA Today in a statement. "This was addressed immediately with the coach when it happened as this was deemed not an acceptable drill for this age group or the experience level of these players. Subsequent to the coach being removed from his position, there were no other incidents or issues with this team during the remainder of the season."
Duggan did not identify the coach or provide specific details about the incident.
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