In a new PSA, Hall of Fame quarterback and legendary tough guy Brett Favre is taking a hardline stance against youth tackle football, telling parents that they should not let their kids play until they are at least 14.
The PSA, which was created by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, shows a child talking to their parents about the risk of letting them play football. The child is then replaced by a teen who is then replaced by Favre, who talks about the dangers of CTE, which he says can include “fighting depression, struggling to keep my thoughts straight. I could become violent, even towards my own children.”
The fact that Favre is the one delivering this message may come as a surprise to longtime football fans. During his time in the NFL, Favre was known for his iron man approach to the game. He holds the record for most consecutive starts with an astonishing 297 games and would often play through injury.
But while his tough guy mentality was celebrated as inspirational at the time, as we gain more knowledge, it’s becoming clear that this old school style of thinking can lead to longterm health problems for players, including CTE caused by concussions. Favre even told TODAY that he is unsure if he has CTE due to his Hall of Fame career, which is a frightening reality many former players face.
“I don’t know what normal feels like. Do I have CTE? I really don’t know,” Favre explained. “Concussions are a very, very serious thing and we’re just scraping the surface of how severe they are.”
Since his retirement, Favre has made a habit of stirring up controversy, including when the state of Mississippi demanded that he pay over $1 million back he received for speaking engagements he didn’t actually do. But his comments are spot-on in this case, as research clearly shows that the effects of CTE can begin at a young age.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, who was the first to identify Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, has voiced an even stronger sentiment, previously telling Fatherly that youth football was a form of child abuse and that “every child who plays football or any contact sport is at risk of exposure to brain damage.”
Several former and current NFL players, including Drew Brees, Terry Bradshaw, Kurt Warner, and Bo Jackson have said they won’t let their kids play tackle football until they are teens or won’t let them play at all.
Over the last few years, numbers have shown that there has been a steady decline in the number of children participating in youth tackle football. And hopefully, with former players like Favre speaking out, we can move towards a future where no kids aren’t putting their health at risk before they can even understand what they are doing.