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Local players and coaches to fight football legislation

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Buffalo: Local players and coaches to fight football legislation
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Legislation regarding youth football hasn't even reached the floor in Albany yet and it's already garnering criticism.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Youth football participants and Senator Tim Kennedy are hoping to block a proposed statewide ban on youth football.

The legislation was introduced by New York City Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and wouldn’t allow children under the age of 11 to play youth football.

With recent studies on concussions related to the game, Benedetto feels the measure would keep kids safe.

But other don't agree.

"You can fall in basketball, hit your head and get a concussion. Baseball too. it's every sport that you play, that's physical that you can be injured and get a concussion at," said Maurice Jones, head coach of Western New York Bills.

People at Thursday's rally say the earlier kids start, the better prepared they are down the road.

"The kids that played youth football, they already know the proper way to tackle and block and all the techniques that keep them safe when they're out there competing in football," said Rich Robbins, Canisius High School head coach.
"I think starting at six, seven, eight-years old, they teach them what to do and how to play and by the time they're in high school, they know what they're doing," said Waynika Edwards, team mom.

Football advocates also stress some of the opportunities and benefits that the sport can provide.

"Some of the coaches is like father figures to these kids, big cousins, big uncles; some of these kids is growing up without a father being around. So if you take football away from these kids that play football from those ages, who are they going to look up to?" asked Tyree Parker, Buffalo City Sports president.

"It's what got me an opportunity to receive a college education for free and by ripping football away at a younger age it diminishes the skill level of athletes as they get into high school," said Jeremy Kelley, a West Seneca native and wide receiver currently on the roster for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

Kennedy says he supports efforts to make the sport safer without taking away the game and feels Albany shouldn’t make the final decision.

"Those are decisions that should be made in the home by the parents of the youth participating," Kennedy said.

The legislation is still being drafted but Kennedy says he will do his best to make sure it doesn’t get passed in the Senate.

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