Former NFL’ers calling for kids not to play tackle football before 13

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Maybe its because it’s the NFL’s conference championship week, but not a lot of attention was given to a news conference that featured former NFL players Harry Carson, Nick Buoniconti and Phil Villapiano calling for no tackle football until kids reach 14 years of age.  The three NFL linebackers teamed-up with the Concussion Legacy Foundation in New York City Thursday to announce the “Flag Football Under 14” initiative.

“I beg all parents to please don’t let your children play football until high school,” said Buoniconti, a Dolphins Hall of Famer who recently was diagnosed with dementia. “Believe me, I love football. I love it. But I made a mistake by starting my career at nine years of age with an ill-equipped helmet.”

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Concussion Legacy Foundation co-founder Chris Nowinski speaks to CIF LA City Section football coaches in 2012.

Dr. Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard University football player and professional wrestler, is co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.  Nowinski said, “We cannot overstate the absurdity of allowing 7-year-olds to receive 500 head impacts a season just because they happen to be getting exercise at the time.”

Carson, who has said he won’t let his grandson play football until he’s 14 said, “The game is more popular than ever, but I always think that parents should understand exactly what they are signing their kids up for.” I’m one of those who believes in informed consent, much like smoking. There’s a warning on a pack of cigarettes. I think there should be a warning notice — by the Centers for Disease Control or the Surgeon General — to issue a warning to parents whenever they fill out a consent form for kids to play football.”

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.