Will NFL players participate in first Olympics flag football event in 2028?

The 2028 Summer Olympics are an entire Olympic cycle away. But the inclusion of flag football at the Los Angeles Games prompts the question: Will NFL players participate on the world stage?

The early answer, barring unforeseen circumstances, is yes.

The players want in. The NFL wants players to play. And, importantly, the NFL Players Association is on board.

“The players want to do it. We’re supportive of the players wanting to do it,” union president Lloyd Howell Jr. said following his news conference on Feb. 7 in Las Vegas. “So, we’re all for it.”

There are kinks to work out, Howell added.

“There are details around, let’s say someone is hurt as they’re getting ready for the Olympics. Is it covered by (league) protection or not? So what allowances, given that football hasn’t been in the Olympics, that would accommodate that type of thing?” Howell said.

The 2028 Summer Games are scheduled for July 14-30, 2028 – meaning the Olympics would end right around when training camps traditionally begin. While that is one of the many hurdles that need to be considered for any active NFL players’ participation, Howell called the possibilities “workable issues.”

“Especially when you have both sides wanting to do something,” the union chief said. “So, details that have to be addressed, but we haven’t gotten into that yet.”

Time is on the side of those wanting to make it work. Discussions “around eligibility and process” between the NFLPA and the league, which carries the interest of owners, have already started, according to NFL executive vice president for international, club business and league events Peter O’Reilly. The Pro Bowl Games, meanwhile, has included a flag football game for the past two years.

“(There are) important things for us to work through, and we’ll continue to do that,” O’Reilly said 

The flag football format approved by Los Angeles 2028 requires players to wear three flags. Pulling one from its socket around a player’s waist line is akin to a “tackle.” There is one first-down marker at midfield. The field is 70 yards in length and 30 yards in width; the two end zones are both 10 yards deep.

When the announcement of flag football’s presence at the Los Angeles Games came in October, NFL players largely responded with positivity.

“I definitely want to (play), but I’ve seen some of those guys play flag football and they’re a little faster than I am,” Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said in November. “I know there’s not, like, linemen blocking for you. I’ll be 31, 32 years old, so if I can still move around then, I’m going to try to get out there and throw the football around maybe in LA.

“Just don’t tell coach (Andy) Reid or (Chiefs general manager Brett) Veach or anybody.”

With spots limited for Team USA, eligibility for other countries, based on players’ familial nationalities and their own heritage, will also be explored. In October, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill told USA TODAY Sports he was interested in participating, but that he wanted to secure his Japanese citizenship to represent Japan.

There will also be a full women’s field, providing medal equity in flag football.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Will NFL players participate in first Olympics flag football event in 2028?