DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Weighing in at 54 pounds, Adam Henderson, Jr. is the newest player for the West Side Mighty Cowboys. “I get to run the ball.”
This 7-year-old may be small, but his father’s ready to put him on the field. “Tiger Woods started early, so, hey, he’s starting early,” said Adam Henderson, Sr.
Adam is just old enough to play full contact football with the Metroplex Youth Football League.
Other leagues allow players to start as early as five. “They crash into each other every single play,” said Coach Willie Drew, the league’s president.
Players are placed in divisions based on age and weight and taught how to safely tackle. “I think it’s safe for 7-year-olds to be tackling each other. It’s not safe for 7-year-olds to be tackling 9,10, 11, 12 year olds,”
Some parents, though, argue, no matter what protections you take, seven is too young to be taking hits on the field. “It gets a little scary,” said Yolanda Banks.
Her son, 5-year-old Anthony, plays flag football, where there’s no tackling involved. “You know, he wants to be like his dad. It’s a natural thing,” said Banks.
Dad is Tony Banks, a former NFL player, who won a Super Bowl playing for the Baltimore Ravens. But, his parents see no reason to rush things. “I don’t think my son is going to be playing tackle football until he’s about 12. The reason being – his body is going to be more developed. He’s going to have more control over it,” she said. “Tony and I are on the same page on this subject. Very much so.”
When it comes to her son’s safety, she’s not playing games. “He’s going to be the oldest flag football player in the history of flag football. But I’m okay with that.”