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Wait - We can't tackle?

By Cynthia Zordich, Player Engagement Insider

Yellow penalty flags decorated the skies during the inaugural Touch Flag Football Game at Super Bowl LI. Coached up by their Pro husbands, spouses and fathers, these NFL women came to play - HARD!

Greg Payan/AP Images for NFL

The concept for the all-female flag game can be credited to actress Alyssa Milano, founder of the Touch by Alyssa Milano sports licensing fashion brand, who saw the game as a unique platform to further her vision to empower women.

Photo by Thomas Campbell

And empowered they were. Two full rosters of hard-nosed athletes made up Team Milano and Team Banks. Play-by-play duties were shared by Alyssa Milano and Super Bowl champion, former New York Giants linebacker, Carl Banks. Both analysts were clearly impressed with the talent on the field.

"What an amazing, ultra-competitive group of women," Milano said. "I was thoroughly impressed with their skills. These women were intense!"

"It was awesome to see these ladies play like they were playing for the Lombardi trophy," added Banks who partners with Milano's Touch brand. "I had a ton of fun commentating. But, watching these ladies compete on the field was awesome!”

Photo by Thomas Campbell

To execute the event, Milano teamed up with G-III Sports by Carl Banks, Aramark and the NFL. To fill the NFL roster spots, Touch partnered with NFL Thread to recruit and coordinate the players.

"Kicking off the Touch/Thread partnership at Super Bowl LI was fantastic," Milano said. "The NFL Thread community is yet another cog in the female empowering platform. More often than not, NFL players' wives, girlfriends and daughters go unrecognized for the strong, powerful and influential women they are.  They are often 'behind the scene,' yet they themselves are doing some amazing things to make a difference in the world.  These are the women Touch wants on our team!"

Greg Payan/AP Images for NFL

Outside of Thread, Touch completed the rosters with local Houston celebrities, Lauren Sesselmann (Canadian National and Houston Dash Soccer Player), Stephanie Gonzalez (Houston Life) and Jordan Duffy (Dujour Media); as well as four local Touch Super Bowl LI Sweepstakes winners, Laura Ramos, Jane Smith, Jennifer McQuade and Veronica Estrada.

 Greg Payan/AP Images for NFL

With a 9:00 am Saturday practice and talent assessment, Coaches Fozzy Whitaker (Panthers), Craig Terrell (Seahawks), Bryan Walters (Jaguars), Ben Leber (Vikings), Keith McKenzie (Bills, Bears, Packers) and assistant coach Trace Hollier (son of Dwight Hollier, Dolphins) broke the women down into the two teams and into their positions.

(Self-appointed) Commissioner, Marc "Jake" Jacobson, prepped both teams, announced the rosters and presented the ladies with their game jerseys.  Milano did the honorary coin flip and the rest went into the flag football record books!

Greg Payan/AP Images for NFL

Representing Team Milano, Rachel Lofton - daughter of Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton - earned her MVP title early in the game. Lofton would score her first of two touchdowns with a perfectly executed quarterback draw, coupled with a quick spin that would take her to the end zone.

"I was nervous to see if I had any of my dad's talent," Lofton admitted. "Unfortunately, I didn't inherit his hands, but I think I could give him a run for his 40 time." 

Greg Payan/AP Images for NFL

Latasha Wilson-Batch, wife of former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, repped the Steel City well as starting quarterback for Team Milano. Bash would connect twice with Danielle Lewis (wife of Michael Lewis, Saints, 49ers). The first was a beautiful 30-yard pass for a TD, the second a lateral pass for a touchdown. Penalty flags were thrown for the second, but it was a call on the defense for rushing the passer.

Greg Payan/AP Images for NFL

Team Banks had an effective running game with Morissa Jenkins' (wife of former Eagle, Malcom Jenkins) graceful 48-yard sideline dash "to the house" and Lauren Sesselmann's record-breaking, 50-yard touchdown run. Tamiko McKenzie (wife of Keith McKenzie) had been dreaming of playing football since she was little. McKenzie tore up the field with enough power and skill to make any coach proud - especially her husband the current defensive line coach at Ball State.


Photo by Thomas Campbell

Coming fresh off the runway after another successful, sold out Super Bowl Fashion Show, Off The Field Players’ Wives Association President, Ericka Lassiter and her A-Team came to play in typical rallying form.

"The first Touch Celebrity Flag Football game was more fun than I ever imagined!" Lassiter shared. "The way we switched from fashion to football amazed me. The camaraderie amongst the teams and the energy the entire time blew me away. We have a sisterhood that I truly love and adore. Thanks Team Touch, THREAD and Off the Field. Looking forward to next year." 

Photo by Thomas Campbell

The future fate of the game was solidified by Commissioner Jacobson.

“We received so much positive feedback about the first Flag Game from Alyssa, G-III Sports, Aramark and the NFL!  We will all be regrouping in the near future to discuss how to make next year’s game at Super Bowl LII bigger and better.  Between now and then we look forward to partnering with the NFL Women of THREAD on other fun ventures together.”

Kyle Sanborn vice president at G-III looks forward to making the Touch Flag Football Game an annual Super Bowl Event.

"The execution of the Touch Flag Football Game exceeded all of our expectations,” Sanborn said.  "We wanted to produce a fun event that recognized female sports fans.  The combination of NFL Players' wives, girlfriends and daughters, along with local Houston celebs and the sweepstakes winners was simply awesome!  It supports everything we want Touch to be to them—a brand that empowers women.”

Team Milano would go on to beat Team Banks 33-14.

"You could see they wanted to win the game," Banks conceded. "Trust me… Alyssa will never let me forget that Team Milano beat Team Banks.”


Congratulations to all of the players for showcasing the strength, power and grace of women on and off the field!

Team Milano: Coached by Bryan Walters and Ben Leber

Players: Michelle Melecio Tylor, Rachel Lofton, Heather Harper, Misty Whitaker, Latasha Wilson-Batch, Danielle Lewis, Andetria "Detra" Hampton, Shalaetha Caver, Monica Mitchell, Meko Smith, Sharon Sanders, Rachel Terrill, Shelby Wyman, Erick Lassiter, Stephanie Gonzalez.

Team Banks: Coached by Fozzy Whittaker, Craig Terrill, Keith McKenzie, Trace Hollier

Players: Dawn Neufeld, Ashley Brown, Angela Jimerson, Rachel McKenzie, Aidan Zordich, Diatra Penelton James, Erica Fezande, Tamiko McKenzie, Ericka Graham, Morrisa Jenkins, Lauren Sesselmann, Romonda Jordan, Andrea Meachum, Amber Newman, Jessica Beachum, Meko Smith, Jordan Duffy.


Cynthia Zordich is the co-author of When The Clock Runs Out. She is the Wife of Former NFL Safety/current UM DB Coach, Michael Zordich and the Mother of Former Fullback Michael Zordich (Carolina Panthers), Former D-1 QB Alex Zordich and Daughter Aidan Zordich (Assistant, Funny or Die).




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