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President Obama's Comments on Safety in Football Meet Response from Super Bowl Coaches

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President Obama's Comments on Safety in Football Meet Response from Super Bowl Coaches

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Photo by Brian Carriveau of Cheesehead TV.

NEW ORLEANS––The topic du jour on Monday in New Orleans was safety in the sport of football, especially in light of remarks recently made by U.S. President Barack Obama to The New Republic.

As part of a longer interview, Obama said:

I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.

Reporters from around the world have glommed onto the words of the American president and wanted to get the reaction from both players and coaches participating in Sunday's Super Bowl.

When asked about Obama's thoughts on football, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh related a story about his own son, a rather amusing anecdote.

“Well I have a four-month old, almost five-month old son, Jack Harbaugh," said the father, "and if President Obama feels that way then there will be a little bit less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets old.

"It’s still early. Like I said, Jack is only five months old. He is a really big kid. He has an enormous head. We don’t have a forty on him yet, but his wingspan is plus one and as soon as he grows into that head he is going to be something. It’s early, but expectations are high for young Jack.”

That's Jim Harbaugh for you. A little bit crazy, a little bit quirky, always entertaining.

Jim's brother John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, was also asked about Obama's comments and said he liked what Jim had to say.

"Football is a great game," added John Harbaugh. "Anybody that’s played the game knows what a great game it is. What it provides for young people, what it provides for people like me is an opportunity to grow as a person. It’s challenging, it’s tough, it’s hard. There’s no game like football. It’s the type of sport that brings out the best in you, it kind of shows you who you are."

Comments (15)

Jeremy's picture

I wouldn't necessarily call those reponses.

PackerBacker's picture

Oh I don't know. Seems like Jim's outlook for whether or not his son will play football is pretty clear.

Brian's picture

Maybe the president ought to worry about doing his job and how to balance the national checkbook rather than football. If people want to run at each other with a ball in their hands and risk their health it is their choice. All jobs have a risk vs reward factor. As individual's we make the choice.

CSS's picture

The President was asked by the author of the interview:

"Sticking with the culture of violence, but on a much less dramatic scale: I'm wondering if you, as a fan, take less pleasure in watching football, knowing the impact that the game takes on its players."

The President responded to the question by saying he would have to "think long and hard" about letting his own child play the game. Not a no, not a yes.

He answered a question, big deal.

shystr's picture

President Obama consented to sit down for an interview. You know, where they ask him questions. It's generally part of his job description to provide some access to the media. As CSS pointed out, the issue about NFL football was raised by the interviewer. I think the President is actually a fan of the NFL, and follows the Chicago Bears. [Poor guy. Tough row to hoe]. He WAS asked to respond with his personal view, not the policy of the U.S. government. His response appeared to speak only for himself and his family. I didn't hear him threaten anyone's right to play ball.
I do think there is a place for discussion in society about safety in workplaces that probably includes the NFL as well as mines, foundries, construction sites and machine shops. Reasonable rules to avoid unnecessary and devastating injuries are fair game for conversation, in my view. You know, like eye protection while welding. When people become disabled needlessly, after all, it costs all of us in the form of insurance premiums and taxes which support programs like Social Security and Medicare.
As for the nation's finances, my view is they look far brighter right now than when the Bears-fan-in-chief took office. But that's for the political blogs (and there are lots of them), isn't it?

Brian's picture

Gee, I had no idea what an interview was. I'm glad you explained that to me in such a condescending manner since I only have a 2nd grade education.

He could have just declined comment...but he didn't...did he? He has absolutely no more knowledge on the sport of football or injuries on the job than anyone else on the street. Leave it to the experts. Based on your view of injuries in the workplace, am I to assume you believe it is good that the mayor of New York banned soft drinks since they are also a health risk? Where does it stop?

Evan's picture

So he's not allowed to voice an opinion when asked directly. Got it.

CSS's picture

Doesn't take an expert to see generations of former football players having long-term health issues impacting their quality of life and cognitive abilities decades ahead of the general populations typical decline.

Also, Bloomberg didn't 'ban soft-drinks', you can still have them, just not in a mega-sized container.

Evan's picture

Either post your resume CSS or shut up.

CSS's picture

Nagler has it. I have an advanced degree in "street knowledge of football injuries and injuries on the job." I minored in 'spotting non-sequiturs' with an emphasis on 'condescension'.

Evan's picture

OBAMA IS BANNING FOOTBALL!!

Jack's picture

Maybe Obama would let his daughters play football instead.

LtlBoyBlue's picture

With all this talk of violent hit in the NFL it seems odd to me that boxing is still a sport and is not banned.

Lou's picture

If you saw Obama a couple years ago throwing out the first pitch at the Nationals opener (he looked like girl) it isn't surprising that he would be adverse to a physical game. If the league is as concerned about the safety of players the first thing they can do is test for HGH and eliminate artificial turf, everyones comments are the players are getting bigger and faster and the playing surface is faster, physics says this has to lead to injury. In addition there are several team fields (Soldier Field in particular - and Candlestick Park) where the local park authorities handle field maintenance not the NFL teams and their fields as noted by the players are treacherous at times because the authorities are only concerned with the cost of the maintenance. Where is Goodell on these obvisous issues ?

Evan's picture

Throwing a ceremonial first pitch...opposing a physical game.

Talk about a non sequitur.

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