As NFL tries to solve its growing concussion problem, a new flag football league believes it has the solution

One morning in May, Jeff Lewis, a former bond trader, walks by a VIP tent on Randall’s Island, where he has made Ai Galli Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero available for prospective investors, and takes the measure of the latest venture in his portfolio. It is the U.S. Open of Football, a tournament in its inaugural run. To be clear, it is flag football. Seven players are on each side of the ball, which has blue laces. No helmets, pads or linemen are present on Field 70, which runs 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. The quarterback has four seconds to get the ball out of his hands, and the game clock is always running. Tackling is taboo; action halts when a player with the ball has one of his flags pulled from his belt. Beyond the end zone that abuts the RFK Bridge sits a red, white and blue van emblazoned with stars, stripes and a shield logo. Three words appear on the front: “Football. Fortune. Fame.” Six security guards in yellow jackets stand by despite a dearth of spectators. A lavatorial stench wafts westward from the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Lewis, playing host, performs a quick reconnaissance sweep, and relates what he has learned about flag football thus far.“Everybody lies,” he says. “Everybody lies. Everybody liiiiies!”

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