Lately, it seems like whenever we hear Brett Favre’s name in the news, it’s because he’s said something controversial. This time Favre’s name is in headlines due to a positive message he’s sending out. The topic he is speaking on is significant to those involved with football in any capacity on any level. More directly related to youth football.
Favre is teaming up with the Concussion Legacy Foundation, being featured in a new PSA about CTE, urging parents not to allow their children to play tackle football until age 14 at a minimum.
I’m sure you’re thinking, is Favre the best person to deliver this message? Sure, he’s had some controversial moments and comments over the years, and sure, he’s been accused of sexual harassment by more than one woman. We can agree on that. But at the very least, when it comes to a topic and discussion about CTE, you won’t find too many people more qualified to talk about this disease than Favre.
Having played 20 years in the NFL during an era where quarterbacks weren’t as protected on the field as they are today, Favre is a great spokesman for reaching parents in helping them realize the dangers of tackle football.
And let’s be clear, neither Favre nor the CLF is against kids playing sports or even football, for that matter. They’re hoping to get parents to realize that kids do not need to be hit in the head on a football field before age 14.
Favre 4 Flag is a direct warning to parents about the dangers of CTE and how not to place children in harm’s way where this disease is concerned. Favre himself has been outspoken about dealing with his own symptoms and potential early signs of CTE like suffering from memory loss.
One of the co-founders of the CLF, Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., has had his own experiences with concussions and post-concussion syndrome. Nowinski played football at Harvard University before transitioning into a career as a professional wrestler for the WWE. So, Chris knows a thing or two about taking blows to the skull.
If parents are going to listen to anyone about the matter of CTE, it may very well be Dr. Nowinski, who has spent over a decade now researching the effects of blows to the head and post-concussion syndrome.
“I feel better now, better than I have in the last 18 years, but I do still have some lingering symptoms,” Nowinski told Deadspin.
Nowinski points to a study done by the CDC. The study found that youth tackle football athletes experienced a median of 378 blows to the head per season compared to flag football youth athletes taking only 8 per season.
Nowinski, along with co-founder Dr. Robert Cantu, established the CLF in 2007. Nowinski is also the Outreach, Recruitment, Education, and Public Policy Leader for Boston University’s CTE center, which he co-founded along with the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank in 2008.
Nowinski has also worked with his former employers at the WWE since 2011 on ways to make professional wrestling safer to diminish the amount of head trauma their performers experience.
It’s taken time, but the NFL has even established its own efforts to try and make their game a little safer. In general, we all know football to be violent, but the NFL has made some progress with different rule changes over the past decade. At some point, most have complained about new NFL rules over the last decade, but they are in place for good reasons.
“Our research has shown odds of developing CTE as a football player go up 30% per year you play,” Nowinski explained.
Parents, we have the information now, and with more research released each year, there are no more excuses for not knowing. Your children’s futures depend on it. Flag football is a perfect platform for teaching the game of football and its fundamentals to kids.
Like in Favre’s PSA, taking the time to learn more about CTE and how early it can begin developing in the brain could be the difference between living a long healthy life and the alternative.
Sit down and watch this message with your children. By the end of it, you’ll be glad you did.