When the former head of the NFL Players Association says that he wouldn’t allow his own kid to play tackle football, it’s really saying something about the dangers of the sport.
That was the case when Domonique Foxworth was asked by Capital News Service if he would allow his son to play the sport in which he made a living.
“We’ll see,” said Foxworth, who played 78 games over six seasons in the NFL.
“It’s definitely not going to be before high school,” he continued. “I guess that would be the first time that we even consider the conversation. Right now he’s in the fifth grade, so we’ve got some time for him to fall in love with something else.”
Foxworth isn’t alone among former NFLers with the sentiment that kids should not be involved in tackle football at a young age.
Muhammad Oliver, another former NFL defensive back, agreed with Foxworth, saying that the rise of flag football gives a better option for learning the game.
“I honestly don’t see the benefit of playing tackle football at a young age because flag football now is so available,” he said.
Oliver also added that, if taught correctly, the skills learned in flag football can translate to tackle and that it allows kids to pick up the fundamentals of the sport.
Of the ex-players interviewed by CNS, some were heavily opposed to youth tackle football before the ages of 12 or 14 while others said they would consider what the child wanted. However, all of them agreed that their thoughts about the sport had evolved since their time as youth players.
Oliver said his experience as a youth tackle football coach and as president of a youth multisport development program in Arizona has influenced his thinking, as has recent medical research linking youth tackle football to later-life challenges, such as cognitive decline.
“With all the information now about concussions and how often concussions are happening and the number of concussions that players have had over their lifetime, I just don’t feel like the contact is necessary young,” Oliver said.
Foxworth, who sustained many injuries to his body throughout his career, said that brain injuries is of a lot more concern.
“I still wouldn’t trade it for the life that I’ve had access to,” Foxworth said of his football career. “But it’s all a different conversation when you start talking about your brain.”
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