LAS VEGAS — The Arizona Cardinals earned their ally float in the annual Pride parade after the team's efforts at the 2022 NFL Draft. The Cardinals used one of the sport's biggest stages to show its support for the LGBTQ+ community, by choosing the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) to make its 87th selection in the third round on Friday night.
"It was one of those moments that's like, 'Is this happening?' and it happened so fast that it's over before you know it," Jodie Turner said, who sits on the NGFFL Board of Directors. "I think I blacked out at some point while I was on stage, just because there were so many people there."
Las Vegas was projected to see nearly one million fans over the course of the three-day weekend, with roughly 10.3 million people watching at home, according to Front Office Sports.
It was a moment that Arizona couldn't pass up to embrace and uplift the LGBTQ+ community.
The NGFFL's culminating event, the Gay Bowl, took place in Arizona last year. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shared with Turner that the Cardinals organization was so impressed with them, that they extended the invite to announce their 87th pick.
Joel Horton, who announced the fate of San Diego State defensive end Cameron Thomas to a crowd of rabid Cardinals fans, is a former commissioner for the Phoenix Gay Flag Football League and plays for the Arizona Arsenal. He was joined on stage by Shigeo Iwamiya, the current commissioner of the NGFFL, and Turner, a board member and the captain of Denver's Mile High Club, the winningest program in the Women's+ Division and the overall NGFFL.
"This moment is not just for last night and it's not just for the NGFFL, it's not just for Denver or the Mile High Club, it truly was for the entire LGBTQ+ community and to bring awareness to flag football," Turner said.
It also wasn't lost on her that the same team selected former Colorado State captain Trey McBride, a standout tight end from Fort Morgan, Colorado, who was openly and proudly raised by two female parents.
"That shows how committed to diversity and inclusion the Arizona Cardinals are and it's just a beautiful thing and I can't thank them enough," she said.
But she also couldn't thank Robert Kraft and the Patriots enough for their contributions to the NGFFL.
"Back at the Boston Gay Bowl in 2017, Robert Kraft and the Patriots stepped up big and that was the first time an NFL team really donated to the tournament, Robert Kraft was at the closing party, it was insane," she said. "He was also the one who pushed for the Broncos to donate when we hosted the Gay Bowl here in 2018, then we went to New York and both the Giants and the Jets donated. Since that moment, every Gay Bowl we've had, an NFL team has been a presenting sponsor."
The NGFFL supports LGBTQ+ Flag Football Leagues in 22 cities across North America and continues to build strong connections with many NFL teams across the country. The NGFFL's mission is to "foster and cultivate the self-respect of all LGBTQ+ people and promote respect, acceptance, and understanding from the larger community."
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