27 Jun HIP Football League founded by Tim Johnson, former Fairfield star, NFL linebacker
Tim Johnson, a former Fairfield star and NFL linebacker, wants HIP Football, the non-contact youth league he founded this spring, to change the way your child is introduced to football.
And he’s going to introduce the concept to Birmingham on Thursday morning with a free football camp at his alma mater. Grades six through 12th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; kindergarten to fifth grade from 2-5 p.m.
Johnson’s year-round league for boys and girls, scheduled to start later this summer in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, focuses on technique, safety and fun, not physical contact. Tackles are replaced by two-hand touch at the hips, similar to NFL practices. (Running plays end when a ballcarrier is touched three times.)
Eleven players on both sides wear softshell shoulder pads and helmets, the later a throwback to the NFL of the pre-1950s. Head-to-head contact is prohibited.
Coaches can be found on the sidelines or on social media platforms, where they review practice and game footage of players and respond with virtual feedback, part of HIP Football’s national network of supporters who played college and professional football.
Don’t expect to show up Thursday at Fairfield and get timed in the 40-yard-dash or shuttle runs.
“My football camp will not consist of combine drills and cone drills,” said Johnson, who blocked a punt in Super Bowl XXXVII while playing for the Oakland Raiders. “My football camp will totally consist of playing football. Football. Football.
Johnson has no illusions about the popularity of full-contact football, the very leagues that he starred in from Fairfield and East Mississippi Junior College to Youngstown State and the NFL (Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland from 2001-06). And despite suffering from his own football-related health issues since retiring, Johnson has no animosity toward the sport on any level.
He just wants to better prepare youth for high school football and its many collisions. Give him four years in the HIP Football League before entering high school, and Johnson said his league will prepare boys (and some girls) for the next level – better than flag football.
“The education of the game is the alignments, assignments, film, touching, staying up, protecting the money, being smart, being where you’re supposed to be and making plays,” Johnson said.
“We’re able to teach kids, and they’re going to be smarter once they put on pads. And hopefully, they’ll be a lot more in-shape and healthier brain-wise and physically.”