San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh joked about President Barack Obama being unsure if he would let his kids play football, but Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed understands where the POTUS was coming from.
"I am with Obama," Reed said, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. "I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it, I can't make decisions for him. All I can do is say, 'Son, I played it, so you don't have to.'
"We've got some leaks in it that need to be worked out. Every medical training room should be upgraded. Training rooms can be a lot better. When you've got the president talking about it, you got something."
"I don't agree with that," John Harbaugh said. "Football is a great game. Anybody that's played the game knows what a great game it is. What it provides for young people, what it provides for people like me is an opportunity to grow as a person. It's challenging, it's tough, it's hard. There's no game like football. It's the type of sport that brings out the best in you. It kind of shows you who you are.
"You have an opportunity to make your first tackle or make your first block or do something in football, because it's such a tough thing. It's a little bit of a manhood test a little bit. When you get done you say, 'You know what, I'm a football player. I play the game of football and that makes me special a little bit.' I think it's a huge part of our educational system in this country and it's going to be around for a long time."
I've talked to several players about the topic in the past and the answers always vary. There's often a sense of pride gained from having a son follow in a father's footsteps. Ray Lewis is retiring, in part, to watch his son play college ball. At the same time, guys are very aware of the sport's physical danger. Most say, like Reed, they won't force the game on their child. I've yet to hear a player flat-out say he won't allow his kids to play.
This is a conversation that isn't going away anytime soon.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.