Editor's note: Howard Newman traveled to Las Vegas to watch his son, Peter Newman, and other area residents compete in a flag football tournament.
While elite teams of NFL players were battling in the NFC and AFC championships the weekend of Jan. 17 and 18, a different kind of gridiron contest was being held on fields in Las Vegas.
Residents from Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Solana Beach and all over San Diego County descended on Vegas for the FlagMag National Flag Football Championship.
Team Xavix was one of the competitors in the eight-man full-contact competition. The team consists of former high school, college, semi-pro, arena football and NFL players.
Ages of the players on Team Xavix range from the 20s to early 40s, except for Robbie "Pops" Simms, who is 63 years old. Simms, from Solana Beach, plays alongside his son Robbie Jr. "I only play a few downs," he said.
Peter Newman, 38, from Carmel Valley, convinced his company Xavis to sponsor the team. "It keeps me in shape," Newman said, "I still love to play the game, and there are great friendships that have developed as we've played locally in the San Diego Flag Football League in Ocean Beach and Sunday nights in La Jolla."
Cedric Moore, 44, a middle-school teacher in La Jolla, said "I only have a few more years to play flag football, before the body starts really hurting. But I really love the competition."
Eddie Foster, 40, from Del Mar, a writer and real estate appraiser says he has been playing flag football in San Diego for 14 years. "It is still in my blood."
At the tournament, all eight offensive players are eligible to catch a pass, including the linemen. Occasionally, double passes occur, making the quarterback also eligible. There are three referees, and the teams play regular football rules. A tackle is made when a team member grabs his opponent's flag, worn on a belt around each player's waist.
On Saturday, Jan. 17, all teams played two games. On the following day, the teams were seeded and the tournament began with winners advancing and losers going home, through single elimination.
During the Sunday quarterfinals, Team Xavix shut out Manitoba All Blacks, from Winnipeg, Canada, by a score of 32-0.
Team Xavix, 27, beat the Scatbacks from McAllen, Texas, 20, in the semi-finals and went on to win the championship game against the Rockers from Denver, 40-25.
The last time Team Xavix won a National Championship was in 2005, also in Las Vegas, beating a team from Spokane, Wash.
Team Xavix members say they are looking forward to April 30 to May 3, when they'll play in the 10th International Flag Football Festival in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.