Roger Goodell would let son play

Updated: February 3, 2013, 7:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW ORLEANS -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would "absolutely" want his own child to play football.

After President Barack Obama recently said he'd "have to think long and hard" about allowing a son to take part in the sport, Goodell was asked the same question hours before Sunday's Super Bowl during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Like the president, Goodell has two daughters. The commissioner deflected the question about allowing a son to play football by noting the high incidence of concussions in girls soccer.

Goodell said he had no concerns that football could go the way of boxing, a sport now far less popular than in its heyday.

"I couldn't be more optimistic about it because the game of football has always evolved," the commissioner said. "Through the years, through the decades, we've made changes to our game, to make it safer, to make it more exciting, to make it a better game for the players, for the fans, and we have done that in a very calculated fashion."

In an interview with ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on Sunday, Goodell said he believes the NFL has "made the necessary changes to make the game safer."

"Any sport has a risk of injury," Goodell told ESPN Radio.

Goodell pointed to his own experience playing football to describe how the sport can have positive influences on young people.

"For nine years I played tackle football. I would play every single day over again because of the values and what it taught you and teamwork and perseverance," he said.

In an interview with The New Republic, Obama had said he loved football but worried about the long-term effects of hard hits on players. Obama reiterated that point in an interview on CBS during Sunday's Super Bowl pregame coverage, saying the threat of concussions mean that everything possible should be done to improve their safety -- especially players from youth football leagues through college.

Thousands of former players have sued the NFL, alleging that not enough was done to inform them about the dangers of concussions and not enough is being done today to take care of them.

Asked by CBS' Bob Schieffer on Sunday whether the league hid the risks of head injuries, Goodell said, "No."

Goodell declined to confirm that there is a proven connection between the sport and medical problems in retired players. He emphasized that the NFL is funding research to learn more about the risks and changing rules to make the game safer.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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