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Brett Favre Pushing to End Youth Tackle Football

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Brett Favre Pushing to End Youth Tackle Football

Over the last several years, Brett Favre has an emerged as a sort of unlikely face of football's uncertain future.  The man known for being the NFL's Iron Man, the ultimate tough guy and grit-it-out warrior, has had some harsh words for the safety of the game and the impact it has on the bodies of its players.

In February, Favre was quoted as saying he "cringes" when he sees young children playing tackle football.

In March, Favre said he was certain he suffered numerous concussions throughout his career, adding that he is "absolutely concerned" about his future health and that he would prefer his grandsons play golf instead of football.

In April, Favre advocated for more concussion research, and went into further detail about his history with head injuries, stating he would not encourage young athletes to play football.

Perhaps the strongest words from Favre about the matter came just last week, stating he supports legislation that would officially ban tackle football for children younger than 12. These types of laws have been gaining traction throughout the United States, with one currently making its way through Illinois's state congress.

Favre, more than most players, knows the toll a long career can take on the body, so when he speaks up about these issues, it's worth listening to. He has repeatedly said he does not regret his playing days at all, but at the same time would not encourage his grandchildren or any other children to play the game themselves. 

The more we find out about head injuries in football and the long-term health impacts of the game, the more a position like Favre's makes sense, especially for young children. Kids below the age of 12 really aren't learning much in the way of tackling fundamentals. In fact, they're often being coached by parents who lack the necessary fundamental training. Even with training, they're still kids who do not have the coordination and game intelligence of older kids and adult athletes. When you combine this with the added dangers to the brains of young kids, which are still very much in development, there's really no reason for tackle football to exist for young children.

But as time goes on, at what point do concerns about head injuries and CTE begin to lead to the downfall of the game as a whole?

Despite all the controversy surrounding the NFL over political demonstrations and head injuries in recent years, the game is still the most popular sport in America and a ratings juggernaut. But the more players with the stature of Brett Favre who speak up, the harder it will be to ignore that the game we love has a very serious ethical dilemma attached to it that could tear it apart.

So here's that dilemma: at what point does our growing knowledge of CTE and our desire to preserve these athletes' minds and bodies outweigh our desire to hold on to the sport as we know it?

Taking tackling out of youth football is a good start, but it's only a start. Who knows what the game's future holds. Hopefully experts will continue to come up with equipment and advances in the game that make it safer in the long run for athletes. But it's certainly alarming to hear a man as tough and respected as Favre be so open about his attitude toward the game's safety.


Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mory Werner's picture

knowing Brett, he's probably trying to keep his records forever.

croatpackfan's picture

If Brett Hundley continue to play, that record is not certain...

Bearmeat's picture


Since '61's picture

Actually children under the age of 14 should not be allowed to play tackle football. At 14 the children are in High School where they have a reasonably good chance of receiving the proper coaching to learn the correct tackling and other fundamental techniques. There is nothing to play for before High School so what is the point?

IMO unless something in terms of safety and equipment changes significantly the impact of CTE and other long term or permanent injuries will eventually eliminate the NFL. That combined with the greed of the owners and the stupidity of the commissioner will end the game as we know it within 20 years if not sooner.

It's not just Favre, it is also the high profile players who continue to leave the sport and retire early rather than risk CTE or other permanent injuries. The league has buried their heads in the sand on the safety issues for far too long. They have gone on for decades without significant improvements in player safety. Of course the owners really don't care because most of them have long since made plenty of money from their NFL franchise so even if the league does fold they still have their millions if not billions already locked up. And the band plays on. Thanks, Since '61

Demon's picture

Agree with you '61. Im not sure why it took so long for this to come to light other than greed. I dont believe the league will fold but it will be so watered down they will lose the fan base.

Im surprised other sports havent followed suit yet. In boxing your goal is to knock out your opponent. Your " knock out" is a concussion.

Demon's picture

Agree with you '61. Im not sure why it took so long for this to come to light other than greed. I dont believe the league will fold but it will be so watered down they will lose the fan base.

Im surprised other sports havent followed suit yet. In boxing your goal is to knock out your opponent. Your " knock out" is a concussion.

Flow49's picture

Since ‘61 what in your experience makes high school football coaches more qualified to teach the fundamentals of the game than youth coaches? In my experience one is not necessarily better than the other.

Also why would youth tackle football where the speeds are slower and the collisions softer not be the best time to hammer home the fundamentals?

I ask these questions with sincere curiosity of you view point and not to be snarky.

Lare's picture

Favre wanted to end his career in Minnesota, if he wants to carry on any agendas after he retired he should do so on Vikings websites.

Demon's picture

I was just as upset as anyone the way Favre forced his way out of town. Give it a rest buddy! Favre made being a packer fan fun again. I am honored to say i watched every snap he took in a Packers uniform!
Good or bad , it was never boring.

Since '61's picture

Tornado - I agree with you and you are absolutely correct. I watched every snap as well. Thanks, Since '61

4thand10's picture

That's a good idea. But what do they do about the Line of Scrimmage? It should be mostly hands on chests/shoulders there, but I'm sure there are many helmet collisions.

croatpackfan's picture

It is easy - at that age kids should be stand up at LOS! So they will not be in danger to use their heads as weapon!

The TKstinator's picture

I’ve never seen flag football played with players wearing helmets.

Duke Divine's picture

We'll never forget you, Brent.

4thand1's picture

You are not going to play the foosball !

The TKstinator's picture

(Foosball is the devil!)

Oppy's picture

I hate to break this to everyone, but the brain isn't done developing until our early 20's.

So there's that.

Oppy's picture

The kicker is, the last part to fully develop is the part that deals with risk assessment, as I understand it. Violent physical sports that can potentially harm our brains and bodies probably wouldn't be played at all, if we didn't start playing them before our brains were fully developed.

A Pickled Packer's picture

This somewhat reminds me of tobacco. Back in the 50's it was only thought to cause cancer. Then in the 60's it was proven to do so. Litigation ensued as did class action lawsuits. Tobacco took a big hit but the tobacco lobby is quite influential in the halls of congress and has survived. Not once did I ever hear it should be made illegal although it should. Money talks and I suspect the NFL will go through a similar process. When billions are involved nobody wants the gravy train to end, consequences be damned. Back in the Bronx we used the play two hand touch in the streets, no helmets, no pads, just sneakers and jeans, I know since '61 remembers. Had a heck of a lot of fun playing that as a kid. Maybe they should try that as a solution for pop warner. I hated wearing a helmet as kid, it made me feel confined and claustophobic and I couldn't see the ball as well either. I'm sure most little kids feel the same way. It may not be much but it would be a start.

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