During his magnificent playing career, Peyton Manning used his talents and his smarts to carve out his place in NFL history.
A two-time Super Bowl Champion, the future hall-of-famer is now part of another winning team as a brand ambassador for Riddell Sports, an official partner of USA Football. As part of his responsibilities, Manning will help Riddell review this year’s applicants for season three of the company’s Smarter Football program.
“It’s important to recognize programs within the football community that are leading by example,” said Manning. “That’s what Smarter Football is all about. The Smarter Football program is a big reason why I joined the Riddell team. I want to provide kids the opportunity to play football the right way.”
“Smarter Football” is a grassroots campaign where teams have until Aug. 31 to apply for an equipment grant by demonstrating their commitment to advancing football, the same values that Riddell shares as it continues to be an industry leader in technological advances in football equipment.
There are about 1,700 football programs, from youth level to semi-pro throughout North America, that applied for grants during the first two seasons of Smarter Football, a program that recognizes and rewards teams that implement smarter tactics on and off the field.
“Our goal at Riddell is to challenge all members of the football community, including ourselves, to make smarter football part of their DNA,” said Riddell President and CEO Dan Arment. “Seeing this program’s success year after year proves the future of football is promising, which fuels our motivation to keep innovating.”
Riddell’s belief is that “Smarter Football” will provide leading innovation in product design and development with the intent of advancing protective technologies. Following the successful introduction of the SpeedFlex helmet, Riddell has launched Precision-Fit, a 3D head scanning process that is state-of-the-art and uses a custom-fitting, helmet liner system that is player-specific and provides personalized protection.
“For me, I think Smarter Football encompasses many things,” said Manning. “Advocating for the best coaching available, utilizing advanced protective equipment technologies, proper heads-up tackling and blocking techniques, knowing when to take yourself out of a practice or game, intelligent injury recovery, and studying film on your opponents.”
Riddell will continue to recognize and reward teams that exhibit taking steps in the direction of improving and advancing player safety and protection with this year’s “Smarter Football” program. But this year, there’s a new set of eyes and ears on the team that will decide the winners.
He’s quite familiar with winning.
“I always tried to take a smart approach to the game, and I really believe it’s our duty to recognize and reward programs that are instilling Smarter Football tactics into their players. I am honored to be a part of the process,” Manning said.
Those clubs that are interested in applying for a Smarter Football grant should go to www.Riddell.com/SmarterFootball. You can also follow @RiddellSports on Twitter and share your own examples of the “Smarter Football” movement by using the hashtag #SmarterFootball.
Peter Schwartz is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His son, Bradley, plays youth football on Long Island while his younger son, Jared, will begin playing flag football this fall. Peter, his wife, Sheryl, and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.