Football ILLUS
(Source: Tribune News Service)

A major concern with professional and collegiate football programs is keeping its participants safe. According to Fox Sports News, NFL players are retiring early to avoid long-term side effects. However, the American 7s Football League (A7FL) claims to have a solution.

While the NFL continues to try and solve this problem by pouring millions of dollars into advancing helmets, the A7FL plays full-contact football without the helmets.

Co-founder and President of A7FL Ryan DePaul claimed that helmets are what led to the increase in concussions in the NFL.

“We definitely have less concussions,” DePaul told Sports News about comparing injuries with conventional leagues. “Ankles, legs and all that are going to be the same, but you’re not getting that constant blow to the head.”

According to a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire on the effectiveness of helmet-less tackling revealed that players stopped leading with their heads and rather deferred to shoulder tackling.

“I would be more willing to let my son play football if there was less risk in head injuries,” WSU junior Nichole Mueller said. “If there is proof that this no-helmet league reduces concussions, maybe other leagues should begin considering it.”

The A7FL was founded in March of 2014 by DePaul and Sener Korkusuz. In the league’s first season, games were featured in numerous online publications, nationally and internationally.

Currently, the A7FL has 16 teams from three states: Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The season runs from April to July, and games are on Sundays.

Each team must have a minimum of 14 athletes, up to 25 max, on the active roster, and teams are allowed to have five players as alternates.

Rules for the A7FL are similar to the NCAA rules, with a few exemptions.

The “Mercy Rule,” for example, when a team is losing by 42 points or more in the fourth quarter, will come into play, and the game will be called.

However, there are no field goals or extra points. After a team scores, they will need to complete a one-point conversion from the 5-yard line or a two-point conversion from the 10-yard line.

Every tackle must be made by attempting to wrap up. Throwing a shoulder or elbow to try and knock some down is punishable by a 15-yard penalty, ejection from the game and/or suspension. Any contact above the shoulders results in the same penalty.

Throw-offs are used instead of kick-offs. Players throw the ball from the 35-yard line at the beginning of the game and after touchdowns, using punts on fourth downs.

With the success of the A7FL’s first two seasons, they intend to expand across the nation. The following divisions have already been created: Middle States, New England, Southeast, West Lakes, Southwest, Great Plains Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast.

“The A7FL is pretty awesome,” WSU freshman Garrett Kuns said. “It’s the excitement of the NFL without the concussion issues. It would be cool to include Utah in the expansion of the A7FL.”

More information about the American 7s Football League can be found on A7Fl.com. To watch games live, subscribe to its YouTube channel, “The A7FL.” Games begin April 2 at 10:30 a.m.

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