Former New York Giants receiver Amani Toomer did nothing short of trashing former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner Thursday, calling Warner's comments on shying his kids away from the game of football "disingenuous."
But given the impact concussions and head injuries have had on the game, and the recent heartbreaking loss of Junior Seau, the only word that fits Toomer's comments on Warner is foolish.
Warner answered questions regarding the issue on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday morning, stating that his kids playing a dangerous sport "scares him" and that he would steer them away from playing the game as they get older.
They both have the dream, like dad, to play in the NFL. That’s their goal. And when you hear things like the bounties, when you know certain things having played the game, and then obviously when you understand the size, the speed, the violence of the game and then you couple that with situations like Junior Seau. Was that a ramification of all the years playing?
It scares me as a dad. I just wonder. I wonder what the league’s going to be like. I love that the commissioner is doing a lot of things to try to clean up the game from that standpoint and improve player safety, which helps, in my mind, a lot. But it’s a scary thing for me.
I’d definitely have my son to play football. That’s what the Toomer family does. We all play football. But what this reminds me of is the guy at the basketball court, who once he gets done playing takes the ball and ruins the game for everybody else. I think Kurt Warner needs to keep his opinions to himself when it comes to this. Everything that he’s gotten in his life has come from playing football. He works at the NFL Network right now. For him to try and trash the game, it seems to me that it’s just a little disingenuous to me.
While Toomer is right about the effect football has had on the Warner family—Kurt went from grocery store stocker to Super Bowl MVP quarterback to NFL Network analyst—chastising the former quarterback for his opinion about his own children is beyond absurd.
Recent advancements in concussion and head injury awareness should absolutely scare a parent, even if this one did and still does make his living from the sport. If anything, Warner's inside look into the game gives him a clear picture on whether or not football is a game for his children.
According to a recent Chicago Tribune online poll, most agree with Warner.
With just under 1,000 responses as of Friday morning, an overwhelming 69 percent of replies said "Yes" when asked if they would be concerned with letting their child play organized football.
The poll demonstrates one thing to me: Observers of professional football are starting to take notice of the long-term effects the game can have. And to be perfectly honest, the evidence for the health worries surrounding the NFL are hard to ignore.
A group of over 1,500 former NFL players is suing the league for hiding the brain-injury risks involved in the game, a lawsuit that may be the biggest current threat to the future of the game (via The Daily Beast). Several former players have also died at young ages, with the most recent being former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gun shot wound Wednesday. Seau was just 43 years old.
There are problems with current players, too.
Earlier this offseason, the New Orleans Saints were found guilty of running a three-year bounty program, which included money for targeting and injuring opposing players. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is on the record starting if "You kill the head, the body will die" before a playoff game with the San Francisco 49ers.
Concussion awareness has improved tenfold over the last several years, but we now know just how often head injuries occur in the NFL. For all 17 weeks last season, at least one NFL player was sitting because of a head-related injury.
Given that entire picture of the past, present and future of football, why wouldn't a parent express concerns about their sons (or daughters) playing the sport? Toomer, not Warner, is the one that looks like the fool here for so easily downplaying the serious risks involved.
Toomer gives this advice to Warner in comment: "I think Kurt Warner needs to keep his opinions to himself when it comes to this."
No, Amani, it's you that needs to keep your opinion to yourself on what a parent recommends to his own children, especially when that advice looks like the smart and safe way to go.