Skip to main content

Valley Journals

Sam Gordon honored by the NFL

Mar 08, 2018 03:28PM ● By Greg James

Herriman resident Sam Gordon is the first female to be honored at the NFL awards banquet. (Utah Girls Tackle Football)

Herriman resident and girls tackle football star Sam Gordon was awarded the inaugural Game Changer Award at the NFL Honors awards ceremony the night before Super Bowl LII.

“A girl playing football, why is this a monumental thing?” Gordon said in her acceptance video. “It seems like lots of girls want to play.”

The award is not limited to players and coaches; instead it is open to anyone that undertakes the tremendous task to affect positive change in the world of football. Gordon is the first recipient of the award and the first female to be honored by the NFL.

In 2015 Gordon and several others organized the Utah Girls Tackle Football League. In 2017, her Herriman Mustangs won the first girls state championship in the sport.

“Our league has grown so much, and we now see leagues popping up all over,” Gordon said. “Girls want to play. It has always been there; it just needed someone to start it. I want to let you in on a secret: Girls love football, millions will watch the Super Bowl.”

The UGTFL began with 40 players and plays its games in the spring. This season, league president Crystal Sacco said she expects 300 participants across three divisions. 

“Football is a fully engrained activity across our community,” Sam’s father, Brent said. “Girls have virtually no opportunities to participate. Sam has that courage to do something about that and wants to give girls that right. She is taking the steps to finish what Title IX started—finish equal opportunities for women in sports.”

The award was presented to her by actor Sterling K Brown of the NBC show, “This is Us.”

“My dream is that high schools and colleges will offer girls football teams, and I am going to fight to see my dream come true,” Gordon said.

Gordon is part of a lawsuit filed against the Utah High School Activities Association, Jordan, Canyons and Granite school districts. The suit asks for equal opportunities for girls football teams at the high school level.

The lawsuit states “the districts fail to provide equal treatment and benefits to girls because the districts give boys the right to use fields, stadiums and facilities, but do not provide girls the same treatment.”

A spokesman for Granite School District, Ben Horsley said, “If there were sufficient interest in female-only football league and it were sanctioned, the district would have no issue providing such a program.”

Gordon has taken on the task of being the first. She has looked for ways to change things in her community affecting the world around her.

“I have seen girls’ confidence increase,” Gordon said. “It lets so many types of girls play. By playing the game, women will have the opportunity to learn the game just like men. They can become scouts, trainers, coaches and even the NFL commissioner. It would blow the door open on equality.”

“I think Sam is amazing,” UGTFL president Crystal Sacco said. “I am so proud of her. She is truly a leader for girls tackle football.”

The UGTFL sign-ups are now open. Practices begin March 19, and the first games are scheduled for April 7.