Most people think the story of the NFL is one of the rich getting richer, and the rest getting less.
While that may be true in most cases, the news that the league is donating over four dozen Schutt helmets to a financially challenged football league on Long Island, left many local football fans feeling good about its new-found charity work in the area.
The Bellport youth football league, an organization that has been ravaged by budget cuts, was in desperate need of new helmets and equipment as they headed into their 14th season, and the NFL came through in the clutch by donating 50 brand new Schutt models to families that have fallen on tough economic times.
Bellport, a small community in Suffolk County, NY, has a population of less than 3,000, and they have long been known as an "under-served" community with high crime and unemployment rates.
Youth league football is perhaps the top way to keep young Bellport children and teens off the streets and out of trouble, but the lack of new equipment made the on-the-field dangers just as extreme.
Hats off to the NFL for doing something positive for the young kids here on Long Island. In the wake of Junior Seau's suicide and the increased awareness of the long-term health consequences of concussions, many parents here on Long Island are worried about signing their children up for football.
The new, safer helmets donated by the NFL will certainly help put those concerns to rest. The only problem I saw with this situation was the fact that the NFL is only donating 50 helmets even though the league has 150 kids. Essentially, that would have left 100 kids with old helmets, and just 50 with brand new ones. That wouldn't have been fair at all.
Luckily, Port Jeff Sports stepped up to the plate by providing 100 brand new Rawlings Momentum helmets, discounted to $50 apiece, which created the opportunity for every child in the league to have a new helmet.
13,000 New Helmets
Jerry O'Hara, who coaches one of the teams for 11-year-olds on which his son, Sean, plays, said, "This is phenomenal because there's a lot of needy families and times are hard."
The NFL lockout of 2011 left many football fans with a bad taste in their mouths, as owners and players both came away from the situation looking greedy, but the league working to take steps to promote safety while contributing funds to youth league football, is a great march in the right direction.
According to a statement issued by the NFL, and as reported by Newsday.com, the goal is to have 13,000 hand-me-down helmets, 10 years or older, traded in for new ones this year. "This program is part of our focus on player safety at all levels of the game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in the statement.
I give some serious props to the NFL for helping out the children of Long Island who want to pursue football, and for lending a helping hand to the local families that have fallen on hard times.
Eric Holden, a lifelong New York Jets fan and supporter of the NFL, has been covering Long Island high school sports since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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