On Tuesday, legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre opened up about kids under 14 playing tackle football and its possible side effects.
Favre recently spoke with TODAY in an exclusive interview where he promoted his new partnership with the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The NFL Hall of Famer is urging parents to reconsider allowing their children to play tackle football until they turn 14. In his PSA for the foundation, Favre warns of the dangers of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The PSA says the longer kids play the sport and get hit, the more likely they are to develop the progressive and fatal condition.
“I don’t know what normal feels like. Do I have CTE? I really don’t know,” Brett Favre said to TODAY. “Concussions are a very, very serious thing and we’re just scraping the surface of how severe they are.”
Brett Favre grew up in Mississippi and began playing football at a young age. His father was his high school football coach, and he later played college ball at Southern Mississippi. In addition, Favre played 19 seasons in the NFL, and has had numerous concussions throughout his lengthy football career. While speaking to TODAY, he said he’s unsure if his forgetfulness is from aging or because of possible brain trauma.
“(There’s) no telling how many concussions I’ve had. And what are the repercussions of that, there’s no answer,” Favre told TODAY. “I wasn’t the best student, but I still can remember certain things that you would go, ‘Why would you even remember that?’ But I can’t remember someone that I played six years with in Green Bay … but the face looks familiar. Those [are the] type of issues that make me wonder.”
Brett Favre Won’t Encourage His Grandsons to Play Football
Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO and co-founder Chris Nowinski shared a statement on the matter as well. He says that younger children who play tackle football are at a higher risk to develop the neurological condition.
“A football player’s odds of developing CTE may be most determined by their parents. Specifically what age the child is allowed to start playing tackle football,” Nowinski said. “It’s time to accept that CTE is not just a risk for professional and college football players, but also for high school players. And the best way to prevent CTE among football players is to delay the introduction of tackle football.”
The group’s PSA isn’t suggesting that kids never play football. They’re simply recommending that parents have their children play flag football, which is safer, until they’re at least 14.
During his interview, Brett Favre also addressed how he feels about his own family members playing the sport. He has three grandsons aged 11, 7, and 4, and he says he won’t encourage them to play football.
“If they choose to play I will support them, but I’m not going to encourage them in any way to play. That surprises a lot of people, but I’m just fearful of what concussions can do,” Favre said. “And it only takes one. Maybe I have had a thousand… It’s just too risky. I’m not going to encourage them to play until there’s a treatment.”
“The best way to avoid concussions is not to play at all, and of course that’s not going to happen,” he added.