NYT columnist Joe Nocera writes today—on the eve of the Super Bowl—about head injuries in American football and the brain damage suffered by so many former players, particularly linemen, as they age (one may also add the long-term consequences of all the other injuries, e.g. Joe Namath’s knee problems, which worsened as he grew older). A lot has been written on the subject over the past several years, of course, but Nocera discusses the very first article he read on it, written in 1976 by a reporter for an alternative weekly, who interviewed players in Super Bowl X (Nocera links to it in his column). No one ever brought up the issue in those days. Nocera concludes the column with this
“I don’t think anyone should play tackle football before high school,” [former football player Jean] Fugett told me before getting off the phone. “Kids’ bodies are not ready.”
“Flag football,” he said, “is a wonderful game.”
I’ll go one step further. Tackle football should be banned even in high school. It is crazy and irresponsible for parents to allow their teenage sons to play such a dangerous sport. Let them play flag. Or if they want to rough it up a little, rugby.
BTW, I remember Super Bowl X. Steelers-Cowboys. Great game. I was for the Steelers.