Kurt Warner was asked whether he'd let his son play football:
"They both have the dream, like dad, to play in the NFL," Warner said. "That's their goal. And when you hear things like the bounties, when you know certain things having played the game, and then obviously when you understand the size, the speed, the violence of the game, and then you couple that with situations like Junior Seau -- was that a ramification of all the years playing? And things that go with that. It scares me as a dad. I just wonder -- I wonder what the league's going to be like. I love that the commissioner is doing a lot of things to try to clean up the game from that standpoint and improve player safety, which helps, in my mind, a lot. But it's a scary thing for me."Asked if he would prefer that his sons not play football, Warner answered, "Yes, I would. Can't make that choice for them if they want to, but there's no question in my mind."
This strikes me as fairly respectable opinion about what Warner would do with his kids. It's worth checking out Merrill Hoge's response here:
I'm speaking of a guy who's representing the national football league and representing the game and who is actually representing head trauma. And from a spokesman's perspective I think it's very unacceptable and uneducated. When you think about what the problem is it is not head trauma it is how head trauma is cared for that's the issue. You're going to have concussions in every sport known to man.
That is a really amazing statement made in response, not to a call to ban professional football, but to a dude discussing his own children.
Amani Toomer piles on:
I'd definitely have my son to play football. That's what the Toomer family does. We all play football. But what this reminds me of is the guy at the basketball court, who once he gets done playing takes the ball and ruins the game for everybody else. I think Kurt Warner needs to keep his opinions to himself when it comes to this. Everything that he's gotten in his life has come from playing football. He works at the NFL Network right now. For him to try and trash the game, it seems to me that it's just a little disingenuous to me.
One thing that's made this decision a lot easier is the response from people to even the mildest critiques. Kurt Warner compliments the commissioner, says he doesn't want his kids to play, but wouldn't stop them. And he's "trashing the game."
There's a kind of blindness at work.
This isn't like boxing. It's acceptable to say you don't want your kid boxing. The term "punch-drunk" has actual history. This is a sort of denial-ism wherein "I respect your opinion but will do something else" is taken as an existential threat. Meanwhile the actual existential threat is is dismissed as a non-problem that will be fixed by fines and better helmets.
I don't think these guys get it at all. Or perhaps they do. I have a certain respect for someone saying "I go into this fully knowing the risks and contradictions but will do it anyway." But that's not what we're getting. We're getting the risks are overblown and the mildest talk of them is "unacceptable" and "trashing the game."
MORE: I'd like to add one other point. Junior Seau's family agreed to have his brain studied. It may well turn out that brain trauma had zero to do with his death. That doesn't affect my own personal decision one bit. As I said before I've been debating this for years now. I can't really live in the space of wondering whether the game I support killed him. I'm a firm believer that very need to ask certain questions is a sign, regardless of the answers.
We don't yet know what happened to Seau. But we do know what happened to Dave Duerson. We are pretty clear on what happened to Ray Easterling. That was just a few weeks ago.