Of all people.
There are many former NFL players who could have thrown a grenade onto a kid's dream of playing football. They could have talked about the danger of playing the game and all the ill effects that can follow such an endeavor. And for the most part, the concerns and warnings probably would have fallen on deaf ears. After all, nobody wants to hear from a crybaby former athlete. Football is for tough guys, men—just ask Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.
Enter Brett Favre.
Favre, the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Green Bay Packers, is perhaps the toughest player of all. Nothing—including a 300-pound lineman intentionally trying to take him out—could stop Favre from suiting up and playing the game he loved. The game was a part of his DNA, a lifeline for him, if you will. Favre holds the NFL record for consecutive games played 297. In the process, Favre was also sacked a record 525 times in his 20-year career.
But here was Favre, the future Hall of Famer, on Monday, during a taped interview on the Today Show, saying he doesn't know if he would allow his son to play football, if he had one.
"I would be very leery of him playing," said Favre to Matt Lauer. "In some respect, I'm almost glad I don't have a son because of all the pressures he would face.”
"Also the physical toll it could possibly take on him, not to mention if he never made it, he's going to be a failure in everyone's eyes. But more the physical toll it could take."
It had to send chills through NFL America. A game with kids not playing it as they grow up faces a dim future.
Favre—who has two daughters—was sending out a warning, not defending the game that made him both millions and famous. That's real talk, something a parent or even a kid thinking about playing football would have to take note of: Football's heralded Iron Man saying the sport is dangerous.
This wasn't grandstanding, throwing cold water in the face of the NFL because he doesn't play anymore, because he's no longer a part of it. Favre honestly can't ignore what's happened to him, the effects that make it difficult for him to even finish simple sentences. He suffers from memory loss and couldn't even remember that his daughter played youth soccer. It has to be a sobering thought after all those concussions. In his heyday, Favre never thought about what could eventually happen to him. It was about playing at all costs. Personal health was last on the list. Winning was No. 1.
The concern about the dangers of playing football, especially with all the attention on concussions lately, has taken a toll on the sport when it comes to young people. There has been a dramatic drop in Pop Warner youth football. According to ESPN's "Outside The Lines," there's has been a 9.5 percent drop in participation from 2000-2012.
This hits home for this columnist. When I was a kid, I loved football. I had good hands and some speed and wanted to play receiver. My mom wasn't having it at all. Back in those days, people didn't know about concussions and long term effects of all the collisions. For my mom, it was simply the fear that she would have to raise a paralyzed son. Hence, I never played football and instead focused on baseball.
For sure, many will turn to other sports in an attempt to stay healthy. Even the NFL has changed so many rules to protect quarterbacks and defenseless receivers. And there have been hefty fines for dangerous hits. It's not to make the game soft, but safer.
"I don't want to knock football at all," said Favre, who is an offensive coordinator at a Mississippi HS in his hometown. "I knew what I was getting into."
Favre didn't really, though. There wasn't as much data or info on the long term effects when he started playing. That's why it's great for Favre to speak out and let kids and parents know what can happen if they decide to play football.
With Favre saying he would be leery, how could almost everyone else not feel the same way?