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Saints Legend Joe Horn Says NFL Should Become Flag Football

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2019

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 14:  Joe Horn #87 of The New Orleans Saints talks on his cell phone after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants December 14, 2003, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Joe Horn, a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame, said Monday he wouldn't be disappointed if the NFL eventually switches to touch football.

The 47-year-old father of three football-playing sons told Tom Schad of USA Today fans would need to remain supportive of the league for such a dramatic change to work, though.

"It might be touch football by then. And you know what? That's good," the former wide receiver said about the potential state of the NFL for his sons. "Because if the people pay millions of dollars—if they pay their hard-earned money to see superstar athletes play tag football—it is what it is. It's more safe."

The Connecticut native spends a lot of time watching his sons on the gridiron.

Wide receiver Joe Horn Jr. signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent this year after finishing his collegiate career at Missouri Western State. Jaycee Horn is a cornerback for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Jaycob Horn, another wideout, is a 2020 Ole Miss Rebels commit.

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Their father hopes they play a safer version of football at the highest level than he experienced, per Schad.

"I think it should be flag football. I think the fans would still pay to see it," Horn said. "It's hard to make it safe now. It's hard for a guy to go full speed at you and stop in the middle of him going full speed, duck his head and not hit you with the helmet that he has on."

The four-time Pro Bowl selection also told USA Today he disagrees with any former counterparts who seek a return to the old-school, hard-nosed style of football.

"The old guys, the ex-football players can say [the old NFL was better] because they're retired," Horn said. "If you have children—if you're retired and you have kids that love the game of football—you really don't want them coming up and playing like we played."

It's hard to imagine an NFL without physical contact, but growing concerns about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy—a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head—could cause the league to impose further safety measures than what has already been done in recent years.

Horn, who also played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons during his 12-year career, last played during the 2007 season and retired as a member of the Saints in 2010.

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