The AFI’s men’s flag football league kicked off its 29th season with 40 teams.
Sponsored by FM Home Loans, league officials announced that the three divisions of the league will be named in honor of Pro Football Hall of Fame player Jim Brown, President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame David Baker and New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman.
AFI President Steve Leibowitz announced the division names after receiving approval from each honoree.
Former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown visited Israel this year as a participant in the Touchdown in Israel delegation that brought 18 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to the Holy Land on a mission initiated and led by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
While in Israel Brown spent a lot of timing talking to football fans including a special meeting with the local Cleveland Browns Fan Club.
“It’s something that I was impressed with when I went many years ago to Israel and then this time,” Brown told the Cleveland Jewish News.
“It was my second visit and I am impressed with determinations of the Israelis as a people.”
Baker coordinated the mission of 18 Gold Jackets to Israel last June and organized a similar mission called Touchdown in Israel in 2015.
“Baker made many friends in Israel and he has become a true ambassador for our country,” Leibowitz said.
“Last year I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and witnessed how Mr. Baker has created a remarkable landmark for the greatest sport on earth,” added Leibowitz.
During his speech to some 1,000 football fans at Kraft Family Stadium, Baker had warm praise for Israeli football.
“In the past decade, more than 2,000 Israeli players competed for the love of the game,” Baker said.
“It’s more than just a game for these hearty Israelis,” Baker added. “You are building camaraderie through competition and building bonds through teamwork, which are positively impacting communities throughout Israel.”
Edelman is certainly the most successful Jewish player currently in the NFL. Visiting Israel in the summer of 2015 with Birthright, Edelman spent time meeting Israeli flag and tackle football players at Kraft Family Stadium.
Edelman told the gathering, “Exploring my heritage is something I started in the past few years and seeing Israel for the first time, really getting a sense of its history and culture – I now truly understand why it’s so special.”
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