- Steve Wyche NFL.com
Widespread concussion education is paramount to sport's future
As a parent, I agree with Kurt about his concern over his children's short- and long-term health. He has enough experience at all levels to know, inherently, about concussions and their effects. My son, then a high school junior, was a starting defensive lineman on the varsity football team. He came home from practice one day a little bit off. His coaches and friends didn't notice anything different about his behavior, but I did. I called the coaches and told them he needs to be shut down because I suspected he had suffered a concussion. He was diagnosed with a concussion by the team's medical staff the next day. He had taken the baseline tests before the season and they did not allow him back on the field until he was ready, which was about a week.
I was not concerned about the time frame of his return because I checked with him multiple times a day -- as well as his coaches and those closest to him -- to make sure he was comfortable before taking the field again. I was not concerned about his short- or long-term health at the time, but had he gotten concussed again, then or during his senior season, that would have been it for him. Not all parents are as educated about concussions as I am, though, so I was lucky. That's where Merril Hoge's argument about treatment of concussions is warranted. Recognition is up to observers. Those who are concussed have no idea they are concussed.
There is no easy solution because when you step on the field you volunteer yourself for injuries and concussions while administering both, as well. It's the nature of this sport. The only way to avoid these is not to play, like Kurt suggests for his kids. Some of the rule changes in the NFL -- from penalties for head-to-head hits to improvement of equipment -- are a start, but until we teach a new way to play the game at a youth level through high school, concussions and injuries will be part of the game. (And even then, there are still no guarantees.) Recognition and treatment are vital for those who opt to play.
- Charles DavisNFL Network
What's the big deal here? Can't a man love football and his kids?
I heard Kurt Warner's initial remarks about his concerns over his sons playing football in the future, but I still do not understand the ensuing uproar and debate. What I heard was a man who loves his sport, loves making a living still analyzing the sport, but is also concerned about the safety of his children. Most parents I know who work in professions that carry some element of danger often express concern about their children following in their footsteps.
Kurt Warner's well thought out response on his website to ensuing criticism is one that I urge everyone to read. We all love the game and believe we understand the pain, injury and danger that it presents. We also understand, and revel in, the rewards of the game. And there is no doubt that Kurt Warner does, too. Do not doubt his love for the game. And from my viewpoint, there is nothing contradictory about his love for football and his concern for his football-playing sons.
- Charley Casserly NFL.com
Football teaches vital life skills better than any other sport
I think I can speak on this subject from a different perspective than many others. Before I came to the NFL, I was a high school football coach and athletic director. In addition to managing things at the high school level, I oversaw a youth football program, too. I also coached football at the Division II level.
In my opinion, football is the best sport to teach discipline, work habits and teamwork -- characteristics that are essential to being successful in any job. Something I can continue to attest to, not only in my work in the media, but as a college professor at two universities (Georgetown and George Mason). Only a small percentage of those who play football in youth programs, high school and college even attempt to play professional football. When it comes to the young men whom I had the privilege of coming in contact with at the youth, high school and college levels, I believe they are better people today because of their experience playing football.
As for the long-term risk, I think we have to be very careful before coming to conclusions in that area. I am very pro football for those who ask my opinion on the subject.
- Ian Rapoport NFL Network
Warner's not criticizing the game -- he's just embracing reality
It isn't troubling to me that Kurt Warner doesn't want his sons to play football. A little sad, maybe, that one of the game's great success stories doesn't want his sons to similarly enjoy what the game has to offer. But not troubling.
I don't even think he's criticizing the game. Warner is just embracing the reality that all of us would-be parents will face. Football, a game I love, is not for everyone's children. It comes with a warning label. As we've found out too often, the game does not always leave players in a better state than before they began playing. To play or not to play must be a parent's choice, and it must be made with the knowledge of the possible consequences.
If The Banktress and I have a son, I don't know if we'll allow him to play football. But we will have a very real discussion about the pros and cons beforehand. If we decide to say no, it won't be because we hate the game. It will simply be a parent's choice. No one else's.
- Gregg Rosenthal NFL.com
Player safety is better than ever, and having this kind of public debate will help even more
Nothing Warner wrote was surprising or particularly controversial. What parents wouldn't be concerned about a child's safety? Football has always been a violent game and the dichotomy between that violence and the benefits of the experience (discipline, teamwork) have always been part of the sport.
The difference now is that we know more about the long-term effects. We are better equipped than ever to prevent and treat concussions, even if there is a long, long way to go in this area. Player safety is a greater priority than it has ever been, but there always will be an element of risk in playing football. Minimizing the risk is the goal. Just having the discussion play out so publicly is a step in the right direction.