TAMPA, Fla. — Players of all ages hit the gridiron Sunday morning to take part in the 7v7 Sandlot Tournament at the Tournament SportsPlex of Tampa Bay.
"It's an opportunity to compete, you know, we'd like to teach our kids to compete and try to get them to learn some life skills along the way and some responsibility," coach Glenn Holt, a former Cincinnati Bengal, said.
In only its second year, the tournament has already exploded in popularity.
"When we did this a year ago, a month out we had zero teams and zero players and we ended up with 36 teams and 25 players coming out last year. This year, a month out, we had 70 teams confirmed ready and 35 players confirmed to be a part of this and we ended up capping the tournament at 100," Dexter Santos, vice president of player services for the NFLPA, said.
Some of the biggest names in NFL history came out to mold a new generation of stars.
"Coming up and not having these type of opportunities as a kid. I can only imagine what it would have done for me if I would have had this type of tutelage, this type of coaching, teaching, and just experience man," 13-year NFL veteran Mike Vick said.
It’s not just good competition, the tournament offers a prime opportunity to play at the next level
“I went to an HBCU and could have been at Florida State somewhere if I had this man. So it's great exposure. And then on all platforms, you got college coaches out here, we got NFL guys out here," Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, an 11-year NFL veteran, said.
It's a brotherhood of football royalty coming together in the Bay area to forge a path for tomorrow’s stars
“I'm passing the torch you see him giving the game to the next generation and we appreciate the game so much. We love the game so much. You know, we only want to help these young men become the best that they can be," Vick said.
The three-day tournament wrapped up this afternoon, but organizers say they’re prepared to come back even bigger next year.