Skip to main content

Warren Sapp wants to eliminate tackling from youth football. We have a different idea

Warren Sapp wants to eliminate tackling from middle school and youth football.

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Oakland Raider comes by his policy position honestly. After 13 years in the NFL, Sapp feels his brain slipping away from him. Remembering every day tasks has become a challenge he feels himself losing, and he's already pledged to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

In a stated desire to make football better for the younger generation, Sapp thinks banning tackling before high school would allow players to develop skills first and then establish a necessary foundation to safely play tackle football.

"The game is getting better," he says in a Players Tribune video. "Let's just make it all the way better for everybody involved -- especially the youth. I'm talking about seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. We eliminate the tackle football for all the kids, we put them on equal playing fields so all their brains develop and then, when (they get to) high school, now let's go."

We agree that reducing hits to the head until boys are more physically developed is a good idea; however we support a different path.

USA Football has launched a pilot program called Rookie Tackle that serves as the football version of coach pitch baseball.


Rookie Tackle eliminates the 3-point stance (along with drills Sapp mentions like the Oklahoma drill and Bull in the Ring), has players rotate positions throughout a game and confines the game to a 50-yard field played between the numbers.


Rather than going cold turkey from touch or flag football to tackle, Rookie Tackle ramps players up to tackle, allowing them to develop good habits without exposing them to the most physical aspects of the game. Further, in Rookie Tackle players will rotate through multiple positions allowing them to find their passion for the sport, fostering greater participation in the game we all love.

Learn more about Rookie Tackle via USA Football.