- Close Video

Steve Young

Steve Young played quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and suffered seven concussions before retiring in 1999. A Hall of Fame quarterback, Young told FRONTLINE he worries about the toll that routine head hits are taking on linemen and running backs. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted with FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on March 27, 2013.

Steve Young played quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and suffered seven concussions before retiring in 1999. A Hall of Fame quarterback, Young told FRONTLINE he worries about the toll that routine head hits are taking on linemen and running backs. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted with FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on March 27, 2013.

  1. Ψ Share

    Steve, take us to, to begin with what's it like? You're out there on the field on a Sunday afternoon; you're the focus of a lot of the tension. This is a very fast game; it's a very violent game. Take us to what you felt when you were standing out there in the field sort of marching up the field.

    Well, I liken it to any high-end professional sport or Olympic sport really. Downhill racers -- I mean, we all look at that and think, what are they doing flying through the air? For that guy, those skiers, men and women, for me playing football at that high level, you, like Indy car drivers, you get used to the speed. You just -- it becomes more familiar.

    So what looks like complete chaos -- and it is a fast game, luckily, because we wouldn't want to have people actually take a bead on you and be able to execute on that -- luckily the game is so fast it's difficult to actually take three, four steps and know what you're going to hit. But I think more than anything, it's familiar. It's not chaotic. It's something I feel, especially toward the end of my career, very comfortable with.

    You described the game as violent. I know that there are really tough hits, but the game itself, there are rules about it that really -- and I think the NFL is trying more and more to try to hone those down -- but I have always looked at it as a gentleman's game.

    I know that people outside would say: "Oh, that Young, you're crazy. You don't know what you're talking about." But the guys that played it really well and played it for a long time, we were connected. Reggie White, Bruce Smith, some of my biggest adversaries or my best friends would knock me down and [say], "Steve, how you doing?" And I'd say: "Well, I'm not doing so good right now. Could you avoid this again?" I mean, we would have back-and-forth. ...

    I'm not going to say it was just another day at the office, because it takes all of you. The demands of excellent NFL quarterbacking I always said took every piece of me, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. It was like it just took it all, and I think that was what was so energizing about it and unreplicable. There is no other third and eight at the 50-yard line at Cowboys Stadium, down by four in the fourth quarter.

    My life is more sublime now. It's wonderful. It's better in many ways, but you can't say, "Oh, I'm going to find that somewhere else." You just can't.

  2. Ψ Share

    But you're the center of this attention, of this enormous amount of energy that is going around you, and a lot of people sort of refer to it as basically an organized warfare that is going on. And you say it's gentlemanly, and that's true, but there is an awful lot of times that something comes out of the middle of nowhere on your blind side, and you get it.

    Yup, and you've got to be tough. I think that more than anything, expertise -- I think Indy car drivers, racecar drivers have to believe that everyone on the track is an incredible expert. When there is a lack of expertise it puts everyone in danger, especially the quarterback. Quarterbacks tend to put people in danger because of the way they throw the football, because people, receivers are going to go for the ball, right? They're going to go, and if it's not placed well or it's not --

    So that's why, to me, you watch the best of the best, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers. Very rarely are their guys taking those really tough hits. They happen, and they happen I think a lot of times on purpose, because they say, "Hey, this is the only way we're going to get this done." But expertise, you really count on everyone being an expert on the field, because if there's not, then I think the game gets a little bit more dangerous.

  3. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Life After Football

    ... So after the game, you're done with the career, but you're working for ESPN, and you're on the sidelines.

    Right.

    And all of a sudden you start looking at the game in a different way that the public doesn't understand.

    First of all, I wish everyone who loved football could stand in the quarterback's shoes just for a play, because I think it would be tremendously humbling to anyone who loved the game to say, "I didn't -- I had no idea." You can think about what it would be like, and the cameras are getting better at giving that perspective, that one that the skycam comes down and you get a sense of it, but you just -- you don't know the lack of visibility.

    Most throws that guys make in the NFL are semi-blind. I think that once you're out of the game, like I was out three or four years, I would go back to a Monday night game, I'd stand on the sidelines, and even I would say, "These guys are crazy." ...

    And the game hadn't changed that much. It's just that I had left the track, right, and what I was used to, a much slower life, it just seemed way too much. I think that's what I'm trying to describe. Think about anybody learning to drive. You start in the outside lane and pretty soon you're [on the] inside lane with a sandwich in your hand, talking on the phone and changing lanes in a rainstorm. I mean, it's just, you get used to it.

  4. Ψ SharePlaying hurt and "the nature of the game"

    ... One last thing on the way you played and stuff, and it says something about the intensity of how players play. Your rep was always that you would refuse to be taken out of the game, that you would be basically ready to go back, sort of hide from the coach and whatever and be ready to go back on the field before a replacement or anything else.

    Sure.

    What was that all about?

    I think that's the nature of the game, too. It demands all of you. And the culture is that you can play hurt; you can play wounded. And the culture is that you can get through all. Guys did it all the time, so that's the hard part.

    And that's what, as we get into concussions, that's the nefarious nature of concussions, because you can have a bad knee and the doctor looks at it and they watch you run and everyone has 100 percent knowledge. You might say, "Oh, I feel this way." If you can run, if they can tape it up and you can go, then you can [play], and the doctor can see stability. We know what we're dealing with, and now we can kind of generally take a pretty good assumption of the risk.

    As a player, that's why concussions are so difficult, because even the experts, even the people that you say, "OK, am I OK?" "I don't know. How do you feel?" You know, it's a really tough one.

  5. Ψ ShareHis concussion history

    ... How many concussions actually did you have?

    Well, I think that's the hard part. There are episodic hits that you remember as a player that you felt dizzy. You come out of the game; the doctor sees you or you rest up; you feel better a couple days later. You're 100 percent a few days later, and you go play. I've had a number of those, right? Five or six probably.

    Then there's ones where you're knocked out, you don't know where you are. You're not sure. Four or five days later, you really -- you stand up, and you're dizzy; you have all kinds of strange sensations. You can't taste; you can't smell. I can't remember my brother's wife's name, just all these things that I hear about that I never experienced.

    And that to me is like -- I hate to say it, but I've used this before -- my experience is more vanilla. It's just I had these episodes, I rested, I thought I was well cared for, I got better, and then I went on and played. And I just -- I always felt like that's OK.

    But then I see these other fellas that are -- I mean, I hope you get to interview them, because it's just alarming the things that they felt and went through and then still tried to play. I can't imagine what that was like.

  6. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    The Future of Football
    "A nefarious injury"

    One of the focuses, of course, is the Mike Webster story for us. And everybody talks about the point, the epicenter of the violence of the game or whatever is the center. What was your thought about that and how the guys on the line took the pressure, every single play?

    I played 18 seasons. That's a lot. There is some that played more. Brett Favre I think played a couple more. There is a few. There is a few guys that played more, but not many. I played a long time, so I feel like I can speak to this with at least a lot of experience that the thing I most fear, and this is now 13 years post.

    Looking at what's happened and kind of taking it in its holistic view, the thing I fear most for players in football is what they're calling the micro-concussions, these things that happen daily, the things that you don't even necessarily notice, practices, games, linemen, running backs, linebackers, just the nature of the game. Not violent hits, because those make ESPN. Those are the ones that are really scary. You really can get hurt. We recognize that. And those are the ones that get the most attention.

    Now they've got all these reviews and neurologists on the sidelines for those hits, and I think they're probably going to get to a place where they can get as much alignment with assumption of the risk and true reality of the game. That will come, and I think it's coming quickly.

    The thing that I worry most about, for linemen especially, you talk about centers and Mike Webster, and that's the stuff that you're seeing come out of the guys that want their brains to be studied. You talk about a nefarious injury, one that you never feel until it's too late. Just when I look back over 30 years associated with football, that's the thing that is most alarming to me.

  7. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Life After Football

    And the conversations among guys that have played or are playing now, your old friends, the people that you interview now for ESPN, is there a rising understanding of what's going on? Is there a rising fear of what might be going on?

    Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. There is a lot of focus. A lot of guys that played through the '80s and '90s and into 2000s like I did are really watching this closely. I think that they look at their own histories and realize the injuries they knew they had and went back in the game.

    They knew that, we were big boys; we couldn't -- no matter how the culture of the place, no matter what, you knew that I was either hurt and I need to step off or I'm on. I think most guys would take that responsibility. I did that, and I have to assume the responsibility of that.

    There is a real fear about this other issue that you don't know. I don't have a tremendously long concussion history, but boy, I played linebacker for 15 years. I assume that's probably going to come out someday. Now that's the fear that I think a lot of guys are feeling right now. It's just the unknown, as you can imagine. Of course the unknown is the fear.

  8. Ψ Share

    The amazing thing about your career is how beloved you were by the fans, by a lot of the people that were around you.

    Did you live in San Francisco?

    Just for one year.

    That was a moving target. That was a moving target.

    But there were a lot of people concerned about you.

    Right.

    Leigh Steinberg, of course, as your agent back in '97, ... he said [he] was already sort of having conversations with you, saying, "Come on, Steve, how about retiring?"

    I think a lot of people -- and I think truthfully, looking back and really taking inventory of all the things that went on, one of the things that really comes out is the incredible care and concern that ... not just my agent but my football coach, Steve Mariucci, who when I was going through, after the concussion in 1999, he just was almost paralyzed with concern as a father, like your own father would be. The same with Bill Walsh, let alone the people in the grocery store and all the friends: "Steve, come on."

    And I think for Leigh particularly, he sensed that there was so much -- people that are older know that this is a young man's game, and you're going to end it at mid-30s, maybe as late as 40. People know that [they] have lived a long time, [but] that's hopefully only halfway or maybe even less, and there is a lot more to do. So I think that's the concern.

    But like I said, back then, with concussions, it was as nefarious as it ever will be right then, because it was an issue. As I went to my neurologist at the time: "How do you feel?" "I feel OK." Then there is some baseline testing they can do. When you run, "How do you feel?" "I feel good." "OK, well I think you can --" It's just no one's sure. That's the hard part about it.

  9. Ψ Share

    ... 1999, the second game of the season, you're playing the Saints, and you're hit like 21 times or something, a lot. Do you remember that game?

    Sure.

    Do you remember the violence of that one?

    I remember it well, because I was engaged to be married that next March, and my fiancée, who is now my wife, Barb, for 13 years now, she had seen very few games. Football was -- you know, she didn't really follow it that closely, and so that was one of the few games that she actually saw. And I remember thinking to myself, boy, you don't usually get beat up like that.

    So that was a memorable one and a great one, because the physical beating was more than usual, but to me, the physical nature of the game can be recovered from very quickly. Injuries, being injured, that's a whole 'nother story, but the physical nature, being sore the next day, getting kind of bounced around a little bit, I always felt like it was something that would ebb and flow. Some games were easier than others.

  10. Ψ Share

    ... The next week you're playing the Cardinals. You're blitzed from your blind side. What happens?

    So Aeneas Williams hits me backward, and I think Dave Fiore's knee -- my head hits his knee, which is typically what happens. It's like this odd stuff that goes on that creates the impact.

    And I remember feeling like, you know, I think I was -- more than anything, I was depressed about it, because the intense scrutiny that was happening among that league-wide national kind of referendum about concussions -- and because I had had a couple, people [were] talking about it a lot. I remember thinking as I walked to the sidelines, this is not good; this is just not the right thing to happen.

    Of the ones that I had, pretty mild. I felt fine, you know, felt fine right after, and I was telling the coach, "Look, I think relatively we're in pretty good shape here."

    Today I'd have a much better chance of getting a clear, concise, expert functional opinion, because [of] just the nature of how the league is handling it today. Back then it was more fear and anxiety because just no one knew, and they didn't trust the player. It's like: "Well, he plays football. He's crazy." (Laughs.)

    But you look at the video, and ... it looks like you're out.

    Yeah, I know. And even my wife and I talk about that, just "I've got to tell you on a lie-detector test, I'm not sure." I mean, I understand what it looks like, but my memory is, I'm thinking to myself, my memory is, I'm thinking to myself, oh, doggone it, because in my mind I couldn't take even a small one at this point, because the alarm would go off.

    Do you remember getting up?

    Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I remember the sense that of all the things to happen, that's the last thing I needed at that time.

    And everybody is around you.

    Yeah.

    What are you saying to people?

    You know, I'm not saying much. I know that I've now got to go through this kind of -- now looking back -- archaic process, right? It just wasn't functional, and it proved to be very dysfunctional and not to anyone's -- I would blame nobody. I had wonderful neurologists, had a wonderful coach, had a wonderful -- just there wasn't a functional way to get to the right answer at that time.

  11. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Life After Football
    "I really worry about my lineman brothers."

    ... What would you say to people who would listen to you and say: "You know what? He's a real optimist. The reality was he was in the game for a long time. He got his bell rung quite a few times. And you look at what they're finding now, and maybe you were lucky to get out"?

    Yeah, when you asked me what I was afraid of and what other guys are talking about and what their fears are, these aren't going away. We're seeing this from our friends and cohorts, and it's not the guys that had necessarily the episodic concussions. It was these micro-concussions, and I think a lot of them are position-related.

    I really worry for my running back brothers. I really worry about my lineman brothers. I mean, that's the truth. I'm not 70. I don't know, but no one knows. I mean, no one knows about their own -- my wife had three concussions because she fell on the floor, and then the -- everyone worries about long-term effects of injuries.

    But what I'm really worried about are these fellas that did it every day all summer long, all fall long, every practice, every game, every walkthrough, every spring ball. That's what I worry about. As a quarterback, those are the times when Joe Montana and I were all playing golf while those guys were banging away. I worry. I worry about myself -- there's no question; we all do, because we have our own histories -- but I really worry about my fellow brothers in different positions.

  12. Ψ ShareHis decision to retire from football

    Troy Aikman, of course, and you seemed to be the poster boys for this issue at that point.

    Right. Well, Leigh Steinberg did a good job of that, too.

    Yes, he did. You were connected to the guy who was looking at it. He's wrestling with it the next year, 2000, because he's got a bit of a history, and he's been having some problems. There's a telephone call that he reaches out to you, and you guys have a conversation about it ... Can you take us into that conversation at all?

    Well, I remember that it was really about you keep playing. ... Really the conversation really became, "At this point in your career, mine and yours, what is it that we play for?" I mean, there is risk to playing professional football, regardless of how you want to quantify it. There is [risk] to ankles and knees and heads and everything. Why do you play?

    At this point now, I've played 17, 18 years, he's played I think at least 13 or 12 or 13 or 14, and that conversation is really about -- kind of I came to a conclusion that I played to win championships. That's kind of the reason why I kept going out there, and he sensed that as well.

    And then I told him the reason why I retired is I felt like I had done that, and my father's question to me that spring before I retired: "Is it 18 years, seasons that you need, or is it 19? Is that the key? Is that the secret? Because that's what I'm wondering is, what's the secret for you."

    And we love football. I loved what it taught me. I loved the things I had to face, just the person that I became because I faced fears and anxieties and challenges and overcame them. It's self-defining in so many ways, and it takes every bit of you. As I told you, you can't find other places where it takes every bit of you.

    So there is an allure to it, and it's not -- people say, "Oh, it's because you're getting paid." Well, that's fine. There is, I mean, we recognize that. But football players that play a long time, they play for another reason.

    So in my conversation with Troy, just to get back to that, it was really: "Troy, I retired because my dad's question, I couldn't answer. It really wasn't important for the 19th season, so then I retired." And until that moment, despite everything that had happened, and I know a lot of talk about concussions, I know a lot of talk about the 49ers at the time and whether I'd be on another team or this or that, I decided two things. I'd retire a 49er, and I did not need a 19th season.

  13. Ψ Share

    And did it seem, though, like the concussions were coming easier? Did it seem that they over time --

    I didn't have that experience. I know that happens for a lot of people. See, that was the problem I got into. The way I feel, kind of the lie-detector truth about how I felt about it was I felt like I had episodes, rested, got better, and went back and played. And from everything that I experienced and everything that I was told by experts, the body handles those kinds of things, and then you watch closely for, like you say, you get a sense of things.

    And I think that Troy might have had a sense of that, and I just -- I said, "If you sense anything, you've done it all; let's put it away." ... I wasn't as concerned about my concussion history at that time, and I remain the same way 13, 14 years later. Now I see guys that are struggling and have a lot of issues, and it's sobering, but I can only say what my experience is.

  14. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Mike Webster's LegacyCTE: Discovery of a New Disease

    ... So Mike Webster dies in 2002, I think. There is Dr. [Bennet] Omalu who studies it and finds CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] in the brain, and then there is this big debate going on about whether that means anything or not. The NFL has one position. Some experts come out and sort of say, "Wait a minute; there is something going on here."

    Sure.

    As that debate is going on, when do you tie into it? What is your thinking about it?

    It was later, to be honest with you.

    2007. It really doesn't hit the main media until 2007.

    And I think as players -- now I was working with ESPN. I had followed the game pretty closely. I think that's when it became much more obvious to guys that there was something possibly here, a pattern, because, you know, you play; thousands of guys play. There is going to be anomalies; there is going to be someone has an experience that is an outlier. That's true in our daily lives, too. There is people that have situations, conditions or things that happen that are just outside the bell curve, and that's a truth.

    So I think until it became clear that this might be in the bell curve, you know, that's when I think people started to say, "Holy cow, is this something that I need to really pay attention to?" And I think that's what I'm grateful for, is knowledge is power with anything. And for players today knowledge is, "OK," because to me the fair way to look at this is assumption of the risk. Do you truly understand what that is? And people make that decision all the time. There are people that do, to me, outlandish things -- ride bulls. That's insane. The assumption of the risk is way too high.

    Football for me, I don't -- it doesn't -- that's just my personal experience, but as long as I know the assumption of the risk and I understand it, I can make what can be a rational decision. If I don't understand it, there is something more that is not clear or obvious, then that needs to get aligned. And that's why the league and everyone needs to get as fast as they can alignment on that, because that's the only fair way to let people continue to do it.

  15. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    The Players Vs. The NFL

    As more cases came out, [Terry] Long and [Andre] Waters, and then the list started growing longer, and though the NFL was sort of fighting these scientific facts, when does it become apparent that, "Wait a minute, there is something going on here"? Do you guys have discussions among yourselves? And is there a feeling about the NFL that, "Maybe the NFL didn't tell us some of the risk, more of the risk"?

    No. My personal experience is that -- and really you have a relationship with the league, but it's a more distant relationship. You have an intimate relationship with your team, and that starts with the owner, and that's the cocoon that you live in; that's the spot.

    So my experience in that with my team is that they were, to my memory, overly concerned, overly careful. "What experts can we get? What can we do that could possibly help?" And their over-concern in some ways kind of in my mind prevented from kind of having a rational discussion around it, but that -- I'm grateful for it.

    And now that I'm 51 years old, I'm like, "Wow, that's great." Now, other guys can play for other teams and have completely different experiences, but I had a feeling from my team that we were working through this together.

    But above all that --

    That's what I'm saying. ... You look at the league -- and I've said this many times: If the league is culpable, then they should be held to it.

    I can't imagine how that's possible with what little we knew, what little my neurologist knew about concussions and whether you were truly healthy or not or what were the long-term effects. We had long conversations around what does this mean for the future, what are the risks. "Well, Steve, if you rest and get better, all [are] signs that you can go back and play." "Great."

    So to me, my experience is that everyone is kind of watching the cutting edge and trying to stay up with it. I guess people have different opinions. ...

  16. Ψ Share

    Omalu and then there is [Ann] McKee from Boston University, they seem to be the two ones in the beginning, and then through the years of really looking at the brains, and trying to understand and coming up with this information about CTE.

    I'm very grateful for them.

    Some of the stuff they say sounds pretty radical, especially compared to other doctors and to certainly the NFL. They both sort of say: "You know what? Looking at the evidence that we have so far, most," they both say, "most players that have played at this level, that play college beforehand and probably high school before that, probably everybody has a level of CTE."

    I know. Again, if my knee is hurt, everyone knows it, and I know it, and we can go deal with it, and shoulders.

    There is only one place in your body that you really don't understand. People always say the brain is the last frontier, and it truly has proven to be, right? That's why I think it's going to be hard to find bright lines, just because [of] the nature of the brain. I think it's great that, whether it's because it's forced attention to it or just general true concern or whatever else the elements are -- and I hope that these kind of studies help everybody, right, because I felt like when I was going through it, it was national -- not national attention, but it was highly --

    It was national attention.

    There was a lot of attention, and I was out, and I was a pretty smart guy. I want to go out and find myself. I knew that I wanted to do much more in my life. I knew that I wanted two or three careers. I always used to say on my gravestone, I want it to say, "Steve Young did this, this and this, and oh, he played some football." I mean, I had a true sense of that.

    So I go out looking for those expert opinions: "Tell me more. Tell me what are the risks and so forth." Those are the things that were happening right then that hadn't, I guess, bubbled up.

  17. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Junior Seau's Suicide

    Junior Seau dies. What's your thoughts?

    He was a very good friend, and you just -- you're just shocked. I immediately called all the guys that I know that knew him better than I did, and they were shocked. It's just like trying to -- you try to figure it out. What's going on in his life? What was happening? We want explanations. ... You don't know the demons people deal with, and you just have no idea.

    But I remember saying to myself -- what my emotional state was the next few days was, "I want to call all my friends that I played with for a long time and say: 'Look me in the eye. Is everything all right?,'" because that's what you don't want. Whatever happened, you don't want it to happen to anybody else, whatever it is. So it was highly emotional.

    If part of it is this whole CTE, then we're going to as a group of guys, we want to try to figure it out and help people figure it out, because there's players that are now in their 14th year and 15th year playing football and love football -- I mean, love it in a way that appreciates it for the incredible tool it is. I always think it's the greatest laboratory for human condition. If you pay attention, there is amazing stuff going on that you can't -- as a laboratory guy, you're like: "I can't get this situation again to see how people react. I can't see." You can learn a ton. I just think there is a lot of love for the game that people are going to want to try to help figure this out.

  18. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Life After Football

    One of the friends you called ... he said that you were asking, "Wait a minute; is there more to this than just football?," that you had concerns about that. What was going through your mind?

    That guys put themselves in jams. It's hard to leave the game -- everyone knows that -- and it's hard to age. And there is all kinds of issues going on.

    I always likened retirement to falling off a cliff, and then you have to kind of brush yourself off. A short one you can recover from, but you have to brush yourself off and kind of start over again.

    And no matter what you've got prepared -- I went to law school -- no matter what you think you've prepared for, it's not an easy transition. I've always thought that we -- here I am telling you on TV, but I just feel like we should take a lead in helping guys transition, because it's hard. That's the other thing you worry about, is just the things that guys transition at young ages, at mid-30s, to new lives, different lives, lives out of the spotlight. It's not easy.

  19. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    The Players Vs. The NFL

    Just a couple other things. The lawsuits that are out there -- so you've got 4,000, over 4,000 lawsuits from former NFL players suing the league. How big a deal is that? I mean, that sounds like a big deal. What's your attitude about it?

    I think it shows the level of concern that people have. First of all, their own experience tells them that, "Holy cow, this is not what I thought I was getting into," and especially with guys that are suffering and aging, and I think there is just that concern, because I see guys now that had four surgeries on their knee, and their knee is giving out, and it's got a lot of swelling and arthritis, and they're having a tough time getting around.

    And we all look at it like, "Well, we understand that. We don't like it. We don't wish it hadn't happened." But it's rationalized, you know what I mean? And with head injuries it's not. And I think that science is not getting better, but science is not rationalized around it: "We know exactly what's going on in the brain." I think that's the hard part for players, and they're looking for answers, and I can understand why.

  20. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    The Future of FootballThe Players Vs. The NFL

    ...So what are the ramifications to the game? The lawsuits, the further science coming out -- what are we looking toward here?

    Tough to change the game. I know that people will chuckle if they hear my representation as a gentleman's game, but I think the game can be that way and taught that way and coached that way and played that way. And a lot of really tough, really tough guys have played it that way for a long time. ...

    Could it kill the game?

    I mean, it's going to be difficult, the trajectory of the issues. It really depends on the science. The science is going to probably decide it. ...

  21. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    The Future of Football

    And when I asked you about the ramifications, I mean, I guess the other side of it is also it's hard enough to deal with this issue for grown men; then there's kids, all our kids.

    Right. So obviously, impact is different at junior high and even high school, so that's the other problem, is fears work all the way down to 8-year-old peewee leagues. And it's a totally different game, but I understand it, and I understand it with -- my wife really doesn't want the kids to play soccer because she's worried about head injuries.

    That's why I think parents are the ones that really need some bright-line things to know: "OK, I'm a very concerned parent. What do I need? What's the truth? I think I'm pretty good at making some good decisions, but I need to know the facts." ...

  22. Ψ Share
    Others on this topic:
    Would You Let Your Kids Play Football?
    Would he let his son play football?

    And actually the question that was asked to the president -- I don't know if you have sons. Would you let your son play football?

    I would -- well coached, well protected. For other reasons, I don't know that I would want my son to play professional football. It's just there is all kinds of other challenges. But young kids, well coached, protected, proper attention to the issues, yeah, I'd let my young son play for sure.

    But one of the things that you brought up is these multiple hits, these constant hits that aren't concussions, they're still concussive. How do you prevent that?

    Well, would you let me have him play linebacker? I don't know. Quarterback? Yeah, he can play quarterback.

    There is going to be an awful lot of quarterbacks on that field.

    There is only one guy who can talk in the huddle, so it could be a real problem. ...

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
PBSCPBMacArthur FoundationPark FoundationFord Foundationwyncote

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.