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City backs off plan for former NFL player to operate youth football program

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/18/2019, 6 a.m.
City Hall has quietly backed away from a plan to allow former NFL star Michael Robinson to operate the city’s ...

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Mr. Robinson

City Hall has quietly backed away from a plan to allow former NFL star Michael Robinson to operate the city’s fall youth football program through his nonprofit, volunteer-led Excel 2 Excellence football program.

Last season, the Henrico County-based E2E program managed the Junior or 14U program and sent the top team, the Powhatan Vikings, to the Snoop Dogg Football League Nationals in Los Angeles. It was the first time a Richmond team has competed in the entertainer’s youth football event.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney announced the connection with E2E in May 2018.

Mr. Robinson, a former running back with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco Giants and now an analyst with the NFL Network, said he was told that E2E would continue running the 14U program this year and also take on the remainder of the football program that serves younger children.

Instead, E2E will remain in charge of the 14U program, according Tamara Jenkins, spokeswoman for the city Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, which offers youth football and other sports through its recreation centers.

“PRCF had a wonderful inaugural season for the 14U tackle football team with the Excel 2 Excellence league,” Ms. Jenkins stated in response to a Free Press query.

“We will continue to partner with E2E for the department’s 14U tackle football team to play in their league this season,” she continued. “The remainder of the teams, flag, Junior Varsity Pee Wee, Pee Wee, and Midget, will continue to play in the PRCF league.”

Mr. Robinson, a former Varina High School and Penn State University football standout who also earned a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks, created the E2E program after retiring from pro football in 2014.

The league has partnered with a variety of suburban youth sports leagues in Henrico and nearby counties and has several thousand young people now playing. Mr. Robinson has wanted to partner with the city to allow urban youths to participate.

The purpose of the program is to use the sport to help young people learn discipline, focus on academics and realize their opportunities to achieve success in life, Mr. Robinson has noted.

Because only a tiny fraction of the young people who play football ever get to the pro level, Mr. Robinson has said, the purpose of his league “is to help youths from all walks of life develop into the healthy, educated leaders of tomorrow.”

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