The NFL has been hit with a series of controversies in recent times, but perhaps none more serious than the concern about players who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Now, one of the game’s biggest former stars, Hall of Famer Joe Namath, says that if he had known then what he knows now, he would not have played football.
In an interview with West Palm Beach, Florida’s ABC affiliate, WPBF, Namath says that if he had a child who wanted to play football, he would let them play, but not until they were older, and had “developed a little more.”
Namath tells reporter Tiffany Kenney,
This instrument [the brain] that we have that we have been blessed with, it’s not designed for the kind of contact or physical abuse that your body gets playing this sport.
Namath suffered several concussions during his playing career, and as a result, he has been left with somewhat diminished brain function. He has undergone hyperbaric oxygen treatment, which he says has produced a drastic improvement in his cognitive ability.
Recently, a number of former players have questioned whether playing football is worth the physical abuse, and risk of injury players face. Another NFL Hall of Famer, Mike Dikta, said in January that he would not want his child to play football. Also saying that they would be hesitant to have their child play football are former stars Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, and Terry Bradshaw.
Football is like life? Seriously?
In the interview, Namath indirectly responds to the notion, recently pushed by Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh, that football somehow makes young men better people. Harbaugh says that football is a “metaphor for life,” and there is “no other place where a young man is held to a higher standard.”
Namath responds, “To me, the qualities that you get, the intangibles you learn from sports, whether it be football or other sports, can be learned in the other sports.”
A recent Bloomberg poll found that 50 percent of respondents would not let their child play football. It’s no wonder that Harbaugh and other defenders of the NFL are pulling out the platitudes to tout football as some sort of magic elixir of upstanding manliness. With so many people expressing concern about the dangers of the game, within the next generation or two, the NFL could find itself begging for players.
Here is an excerpt from the Namath interview. The full interview can be found WPBF’s website.
Featured image via screen shot from WPBF