BOSTON (CBS) — As one of the most accomplished and famous quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, Brett Favre makes for an unsuspecting choice to be the one who wants to end youth tackle football. But the Pro Football Hall of Famer who played professionally for 20 years is seeking to do just that.
In an interview with The Daily Mail’s Alex Raskin, Favre said he supported a proposal in Illinois that would have forbid anyone under the age of 12 from playing tackle football. And Favre hopes for much larger changes across the nation.
“The state level is a start, but we have to adopt this plan and all do it together,” Favre told The Daily Mail. “The body, the brain, the skull is not developed in your teens and single digits. I cringe. I see these little kids get tackled and the helmet is bigger than everything else on the kid combined. They look like they’re going to break in half.”
In his own family, Favre doesn’t want his grandsons to follow in his footsteps on the football field.
“Maybe that’s selfish, but what are the odds of him becoming the next Brett Favre? What if he plays one year, gets a major concussion, and is never the same,” Favre said. “I would feel horrible.”
Instead, Favre hopes to steer his grandsons toward golf.
Favre has made headlines in recent months for stating on “Megyn Kelly Today” that he suffered “hundreds, probably thousands” of concussions during his playing career.
“I feel as though I’m lucky, to this point, but … I find that my short-term memory, someone I met six months ago, it has gotten a lot worse,” Favre said in April. “Simple words that would normally come out easy in a conversation, I’ll stammer. … No matter what I do to try to take care of myself physically, that is a part of my future that I really can’t control and that is very scary.”
Favre also co-produced a documentary, “Shocked: The Hidden Factor In The Sports Concussion Crisis.”
Favre played in 326 games — regular season and postseason combined — in his career with the Falcons, Packers, Jets and Vikings. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in completed passes (6,300), and he ranks second all time in passing yards (71,838) and second in touchdown passes (508). He made 11 Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro teams, he was a three-time MVP, and he was a one-time Super Bowl champion.
Though Favre’s career came to an end when he suffered a concussion after getting thrown to the turf on a frigid Minnesota night in 2010, he said that just about all of his concussions went unreported.
“The thought process in those days was you would never come out of a practice or a game because you had a little head ding,” Favre said in April. “You would be considered, for lack of a better term, a sissy.”
The debate about football “going soft” or “becoming flag football” has been raging for years, coinciding with the increase in research and understanding of concussions. The NFL has taken some steps to help mitigate the risk, but it’s generally been understood that such risk is inherent to a game as violent as football.
In that regard, Favre was not calling for an outright ban on the sport, but he does believe that undeveloped youths should not be launching their bodies into one another.
“I think it’s going to take someone who has poured his blood, sweat and tears into it,” Favre said of his mission.
Given his conviction and his football resume, Favre figures to be the perfect candidate.