Flag Football League Provides Outlet For Local Athletes

Players from the Omaha branch of the NFFL playing a game.

Story and Video By Josh Compton, News Net Nebraska, Photos Courtesy of the Nebraska Flag Football League

When Nick Gregath started the Nebraska Flag Football League in 2006, he didn’t know what to expect. He knew that his immediate friends would be interested, but what he didn’t know was how much the league would grow over the coming years.

“My friends and I were sitting around and decided that we should start a flag football league,” said Gregath, the 29-year-old owner of the NFFL. “I bought all of the equipment, put up a bunch of posters, and just sat back to see what would happen.”

In its first year, Gregath welcomed 31 teams to the league. Today, 75 teams and a total of over 600 players are currently members of the NFFL. Most of the players are in their mid-20s and live in Lincoln, Neb. For them, the league is all about fun, friends and a little bit of exercise.

“It’s an excuse to run around on a Sunday,” said Cody Wehrkamp, a NFFL team member and laboratory technician at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Plus, it feels really good to win.”

Wehrkamp said that his team is competitive but that his team doesn’t spend time creating playbooks or practicing like some of the other teams.

“We don’t practice,” said Wehrkamp. “The quarterback just draws up plays in huddle. It isn’t really formal or structured.”

The NFFL website tracks team and player stats which are updated after each game and verified by team captains.

Others play for the camaraderie and the chance to keep up the skills they learned in high school or college.

“I’ve always liked the sport and my best friend actually got me on the team,” said Micah Busboom, a student at Southeast Community College in Beatrice. “Up until I was a freshman in high school, I was a quarterback and played a little defense. It’s just fun to get back out on the field.”

Gregath knew that creating a flag football league wasn’t an original idea. He played for Run-N-Gun, a now-closed league that was located in Omaha. But Gregath also knew that interest in the league wouldn’t be a problem, as many college graduates hoped to replace intramural flag football with a city-wide league. His worry was how he could sustain the NFFL without charging too much and scaring potential teams away.

“People don’t understand that the city won’t just let you play,” said Gregath. “You have to buy insurance and you have to rent the fields.”

Gregath decided to charge $375 per team to help pay for city fees and player uniforms. Each team must also pay $15 per game to the referee. It’s this system that has helped Gregath keep the league going and ensure that it can stay in place for years to come.

The NFFL is split into two divisions. One is called Competitive and is designed for teams that have a high amount of athletic talent. The other is called Intermediate and is for teams with a moderate amount of athletic talent but aren’t as worried about wins and losses. The year is split into two seasons, Fall and Spring, and Gregath said that most teams play in both.

Players from the Omaha branch of the NFFL getting ready to play a game.

Teams play 10 or 11 regular season games in order to be seeded for playoffs at the end of the year. Each division awards a cash prize to its champion ($1,000 for Competitive and $200 for Intermediate).

Gregath and the players are happy to keep the NFFL local. Gregath said he could have given the league national and international attention by teaming up with FlagMag.com, a website that ranks flag football teams from all over the United States and a few other countries as well. He decided against it as it would mean teams would have to incur additional fees.

Gregath did decide to expand the league into Omaha, which includes a division that’s open to both men and women, in addition to the Intermediate and Competitive ones, and handed those operations over to his friend, Wyatt Godfrey, but he doesn’t see any further growth. Instead, he sees the NFFL maintaining its current size and focusing on being a fun, flag football organization for the local community.

“I started the league because my friends and I wanted to play football,” said Gregath. “I keep it going because I know that a lot of other people want the same thing.”

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6 Responses

  1. Steady Mobbin says:

    What this article does not point out is that the fall league of 2010 went without stats and up-to-date standings due to website issues. Mr. Gregath only started the Omaha league with the intention of beating up on what he considers inferior competition. No matter what division you play in, this league can be very competitive and whiny, bordering on violent at times. How much did you get paid for this garbage Mr. Compton? A little more research would have been nice.

  2. Put up with it for 3 years says:

    To expand on the previous comment, Mr Compton must be a friend of his looking for a waived entry fee. The team i played on joined the league three falls in a row and each fall received less and less respect from the owners and their teams. Games are ref’d by players of other teams who hold grudges and have friends. You pay $375 and I recall signing an injury waiver form, so I’m not sure where the whole “pay for insurance” comes from. I also did a little research to try and find how one would go about renting the fields they use and never found anything about needing to pay for public (city owned) parks. He never answered these questions when presented with them, instead he kicked me out of the league to try silencing me.( i love playing football and just wanted games ref’d fairly. Never got it so i dug deeper. Digging deeper got me kicked out.)
    As stated by the other persons comment, stats were only really kept in the 2009 fall season (in my experience), unless you play for one of the owner’s teams, which then they were updated weekly (so much for website difficulty, ha).
    The league is a scam and the owner is immature. YOU CAN TRY REASONING WITH HIM, BUT HE’LL INSIST THAT YOU HAVE NO BRAIN, AND THAT EVERYTHING ABOUT HIS LEAGUE IS LEGIT (rather then show you proof). I actually still have a recorded phone message from him spitting profanities at me for questioning his authority and devotion to the league he receives over $15,000 (2010 Lincoln figure, before the 15$/week ref fees, which i assume he doesn’t get) to manage.
    Don’t pay this dude and his group of friends your hard earned money when the quality of service is no better than backyard football with neighborhood teenagers.

    ps If you do join, just understand that the talk trash forum board means glorify the owners and talk shit about the teams that don’t win. Don’t dare talk trash about Nick’s managing,rather then acknowledge and fix the kinks (which is all anyone wants), he’ll just kick you out permanently and say many F-yous.

  3. GMan says:

    Nice article. It is sad that people who offer nothing but criticism are the only ones to comment. I have played in this league for at least 3 years on various competitive teams. This league like any other is not PERFECT, but it is fun regardless of all the stuff these other guys are complaining about. The cost are minimal and in fact teams can get businesses to sponsor all of their fees, (one of my teams chose this route). We only paid ref fees that season. Ref fees are $15 dollars a game. If the above commentor had a problem with who was reffing he could have signed up or found people to do it. Instead of hating on this league and what it is trying to do, hang with it and offer suggestions to make it better. At the end of the day you cant expect Mr. Gregath to please everyone, judging by the amount of guys who play and continue to play it is a good thing. Matter of fact I am looking forward to March to play again. It really is sad that men are on here b***hing about something we do for fun and for some a shot of reliving competition albeit in a less physical manner.

  4. GMan, you are exactly right; I’ve played in dozens of leagues, and none of them are perfect. There are always some questionable calls, but the fact of the matter is the refs are trying to do their best in most cases. They are human just like the rest of us.

    Also, this is not the NFL we’re talking about here so expecting perfection is setting yourself up for disappointment.

    With that being said, I’ve NEVER played in a league that wasn’t tons of fun. I’ve played in leagues with former NFL players and D1 collegiate record holders, and I’ve played in college intramurals where some guys have never played a snap of football in their life; each of which has been fun, and competitive.

    Guys are competitive by nature. It’s in our DNA. Anytime you get 14 guys on the field who all want to win, it’s going to be competitive.

    This is a great sport. People should embrace it for what it is.

  5. OTown Rep says:

    Mr. Gregath didnt start the league.

  6. Congrats on starting this league in Nebraska, Nick! I look forward to listing it out our adult flag football league page – http://gotflagfootball.com/adult-flag-football-leagues/. Flag football has grown so much over the years and it’s not going to be slowing down any time soon. Way to build community in your area!

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