Much has been made about the comments from the father of Pats quarterback Tom Brady regarding whether one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history would have been permitted to take up football as a youth. And much of what has been said centers on the possibility that the next generation’s Tom Brady will never play football.
“I would be very hesitant to let him play,” Tom Brady Sr. told Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports earlier this week, as to the question of whether a 14-year-old version of Tom Brady would be allowed to take up the sport in 2012.
The anti-football crowd gleefully has seized on the observation as a warning that the crop of future elite quarterbacks may be in jeopardy. The anti-football crowd, however, has ignored the last line of Silver’s article.
“If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him,” Tom Brady Sr. said. “But it would not be an easy decision, at all.”
At a certain point, it also wouldn’t be Tom Brady Sr.’s decision.
As anyone with a young man in the range of 14-to-17 in the house knows, they can be persistent and assertive and there’s really only so much that can be done to forbid them from playing football. And even if a parent has the ability and the will to slam the door on an activity in which his or her son desperately wants to engage, the son can always take up the sport in college.
Yes, the road to the NFL may be more challenging at that point. But no more challenging than going from the 199th pick in the draft to the Hall of Fame.
Besides, there’s a line between shielding kids from harm and putting them in a plastic bubble. While parents have an obligation to protect their children from obvious hazards like, you know, washing machines, it’s not as if playing football equates to walking on a high wire without a net or juggling three sticks of dynamite with burning fuses. Yes, playing football presents risk of injury. It always has. But the benefits continue to outweigh those risks, even if parent will continue to worry about their sons being injured in any number of ways.
And so, even though some parents may now be more hesitant to let their kids play football, the kids who really want to play — and the kids who have the ability to play at a high level — will still find their way onto the field, if not in high school then in college.