The NFL has dropped its famed Pass, Punt and Kick Competition.
The pro football league, which figures to reach about $14 billion in revenue in 2017, announced its decision to withdraw its sponsorship in the form of a single-page letter to the various PPK coordinators from each state.
Don Davis, longtime coordinator of the event in Butte and around Montana announced the NFL’s decision on Tuesday and stated that there won’t be a Pass, Punt and & Kick competition this year. He said that without a sponsor, the program will not be able to continue.
“It was kind of a tough blow, and not one that I expected to get,” Davis said in a phone conversation. “I thought the NFL was a good a committed sponsor to the program. I just think it’s kind of a shortsighted idea.
The NFL seems to have turned its back on the PPK program and replaced it with flag football. A trip to the PPK website now redirects you to a youth flag football site.
“As part of its sponsorship, the NFL provided not only the supplies and structure for the program but more importantly the path for advancement for all participants to sectional, region (NFL Team level) and ultimately the national championship for the PPK event,” Davis said.
While the NFL’s actions might seem like the end of the road, Davis is hopeful that a local, statewide or national organization is willing to pick up where the NFL left off and help the kids who turned out year after year to test their passing, punting and kicking skills.
Boys and girls would compete in their own age groups and their accumulative totals (throwing, kicking and punting the ball) would be added up. Those with the highest totals would advance to the next level and perhaps beyond.
“It was great,” Davis said. “It was great, not only for the kids but for myself to see the kids advance to the sectional competition in Missoula. If they did well, they could go to Seattle.
“You could tell they wanted to go. They practiced and worked toward that goal. We were fortunate to have a bunch of Butte kids go there over the past 20 years.”
Davis was impressed by the number of Butte kids who would turn out for the annual competition, and how Montana participants fared against those from other states.
“We had a good following because of the kids that did it,” he said. “It was common for us to get 100 kids to a local event when Missoula was drawing 50. We were doing it every year.
Davis is hoping that another sponsor, at the local or national level, will step up and either save or revive the program.
The Montana Jaycees were actively involved in the state-level program prior to the NFL adding its name to it in 1995, and other PPK programs benefited in the same way by Jaycees in their states.
“I think we had a good run,” said Davis, who spent more than 30 years with the program. “I don’t think the NFL is going to come to their senses.”
Davis is grateful to the Kiwanis Club of Butte, which ran the program in town for the past 13 years, and to the Montana Tech football program for its on-field support. He also wanted to thank Butte School District No. 1 for providing the facilities needed to make the program a success.
Finally, Davis has collected his share of PPK equipment over the past 31 years and is making it available to groups, schools and programs who are in need. Contact Davis at 494-2585 or 490-2570.