Two-time Super Bowl champion Tully Banta-Cain has visions of tackle football on sand — starting with an exhibition and one day becoming a global sensation.
The world’s first tackle football league on sand is coming soon.
Former NFL linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion Tully Banta-Cain is starting the Beach Football League, he announced on Tuesday.
The league itself will come to beaches worldwide in June 2024, but you won’t have to wait until then to see how this new sport will work. The league will hold its draft and launch party at Super Bowl LVIII week in Las Vegas next February and hold a series of games from Feb. 20-24, 2024.
“It was really a vision I had when I was living near the beach,” Banta-Cain told Boardroom. “It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks that there should be some form of football played in a different terrain and the beach seemed like the perfect place.”
For one thing, as Banta-Cain says, people love the beach. It’s a relaxed environment, perfectly conducive for playing games. Secondly, sand is a more forgiving surface than grass or turf. If executed correctly, beach football could be a safer alternative to traditional football.
The former pro has already put his theory to the test, calling up friends from his playing days and corralling about 50 people for an exhibition. According to Banta-Cain, everyone had fun, the product looked good, and there were no injuries. That was enough for him to start moving forward.
The playing surface won’t be the only difference you see between beach football and traditional American football.
For starters, the field will only be 50 yards, as opposed to the standard 100, to account for how taxing a surface like sand can be to run on. The league will also adopt rugby tackle rules. Players will not be allowed to execute a tackle above the shoulders and participants will have the option to wear soft-shell pads for safety.
Perhaps the most visible difference between beach football and the game we are accustomed to is that there is no kicking at all in the beach version, as many players will be barefoot. Rather than punting, players will throw the ball. There will also be a net in each end zone to throw for an extra point or field goal instead of kicking.
Banta-Cain says the league is working with streaming services now to make sure The Beach Football League can reach anyone interested.
More importantly, Banta-Cain wants to make beach football a truly global game.
“There’s so many beaches all over the world and so many countries that harbor a lot of talent,” he said. “We plan on going to various cities and countries and allowing people to try out and, and see if they can compete in this game.”
This comes at a time when the USFL and XFL are both expanding opportunities for players beyond the finite roster spots in the NFL. Beach football can do that and more, going worldwide for talent and giving former NFL players a chance to keep playing. In fact, Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones have both committed to playing in the Beach Football League. So are Dexter McCluster, Lorenzo Alexander, Bryant McKinnie, Prince Amukamara, and Jamie Collins.
“We are really excited to see how fans and players react to this new sport,” Banta-Cain said. “I think because it’s played on the beach, a lot of people will look at it as a new opportunity to go to the beach and have fun, but also watch their favorite game.”
Banta-Cain was hesitant to put a cap on how big the league could get, but he was clear about his ultimate goal: to make beach football an Olympic sport. For now, however, his eyes are on the next Super Bowl and the buzz he can build leading up to the draft.
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