Posted January 19, 2014

President Barack Obama says he would not let his son play pro football

NFL safety
President Obama with the members of the 1985 Chicago Bears in 2011.

President Obama with the members of the 1985 Chicago Bears in 2011. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is a sports nut; there’s no doubt about that. He plays aggressive pickup basketball games with close friends and watches football with a passion — especially the exploits of his beloved Chicago Bears. But in a recent interview with David Remnick of the New Yorker, Obama said that if he had a son, he would not let him play football — at any level of participation.

“I would not let my son play pro football,” he told Remnick, who wrote King of the World, the seminal biography of Muhammad Ali. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”

Obama was speaking of a sport that currently has more than 4,000 former players suing the NFL, alleging that the league knew more about the dangers of head trauma than it let on. And despite the flawed efforts of the NFL to look responsible with the recent Heads Up initiative, the perception among many parents is that they’d rather their children play other sports.

“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” Obama said of those players who do take the risk. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

It’s not the first time the President has voiced his concerns regarding this subject. Before Super Bowl XLVII, he opined that he’d have to think “long and hard” if his son wanted to make that choice.

Of course, such thoughts exist in the realm of the hypothetical — Obama and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters and no sons. But the fact is, Obama is speaking for an increasing demographic, even if he isn’t part of it.

When Jim and John Harbaugh, the head coaches of the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, were asked about Obama’s comments at that time, it’s safe to say they didn’t agree. Both men are the sons of longtime football coach Jack Harbaugh, and Jim said he’s already got the next generation moving in the same direction.

“Well I have a four-month-old — almost five-month-old son, Jack Harbaugh, and if President Obama feels that way then there will be a little bit less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets old,” Jim Harbaugh said on Jan. 28 of last year. “It’s still early. Like I said, Jack is only five months old. He is a really big kid. He has an enormous head. We don’t have a forty on him yet, but his wingspan is plus one and as soon as he grows into that head he is going to be something. It’s early, but expectations are high for young Jack.”

John Harbaugh agreed.  “I don’t agree with that but I like Jim’s comment. Jim said that little Jack is going to be playing football, right? That’s one less kid to compete with. I like that comment. Football is a great game. Anybody that’s played the game knows what a great game it is. What it provides for young people, what it provides for people like me is an opportunity to grow as a person. It’s challenging, it’s tough, it’s hard. There’s no game like football. It’s the type of sport that brings out the best in you, it kind of shows you who you are.

“When you get done playing football, my dad tells this story all the time about a guy named Ralph … basically you have an opportunity to make your first tackle or make your first block or do something in football, because it’s such a tough thing; it’s a little bit of a manhood test a little bit. When you get done you say, ‘You know what, I’m a football player. I play the game of football and that makes me special a little bit.’ I think it’s a huge part of our educational system in this country and it’s going to be around for a long time.”

No question that it will be, but one has to wonder what the game will look like a generation from now, as a higher percentage of the best young athletes turn to other games

70 comments
ScottWestover
ScottWestover

Lots of sense being made on this board. I'm not exactly Obama's biggest fan but ripping on him every chance you get is just dumb. He's allowed to speculate. And he's allowed to give his opinion since, of course, he's our president. Even if he were a regular every day person he would be allowed to. But I guess everyone is smarter than him and could lead this country to a new Eden (whoever knows that reference is awesome)

coachsjimnjoy
coachsjimnjoy

Is there no end to the subjects of which our president is an expert?  Because he says so, playing football is bad...smoking pot is good, etc. I have worked in the field and statistics show that the odds are better for brain damage to occur after smoking pot than after playing football.  He should stick to the subjects he knows something about...community organizing, etc.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Wow! I played football through college and truly loved the experience (although I have suffered for decades from a knee injury because they simply didn't know how to deal with knee injuries back then). I'm surprised at the outright hatred expressed by virtually every one of the posters below. A lot of very sick, scary people in this group who are giving the sport I love a very bad image.

People who love football should know that further study and changes are required, whether it be in coaching, technological advances, and/or medical care. These comments are way over the top.

BrianMathews
BrianMathews

you know what, i think that every child in America should have to play a "CONTACT" "TEAM" sport. when growing up you will not learn important life lessons by playing sissy sports such as golf. and the life lessons I am referring to are those of leadership, striving to better yourself day in and day out. and knowing how to win. i can say this all based upon life experiences. throughout my childhood i played football, baseball, basketball, and studied martial arts. and throughout my life none of those affected me as much as what playing football did. i strove to be the very best at the game in which i loved. my junior year in high school i had a catastrophic knee injury. made a complete recovery and returned my senior season and broke 9 school offensive and defensive records. playing the game of football has taught me to do whatever it takes to win and succeed in my life, i did not go to college and am still earning over 6 figures a year. how many other people out there with no college education that did not play a real "contact"or "team" sport are where I'm at in life just a mere year after graduating from my school. please do tell me, and if you can tell me then maybe I am incorrect and kids should not strive to do as I've done. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe not. You decide

heardhimsay
heardhimsay

That is because football is not a game for sissies.  We all know that IF Obama had a son, he would definitely be a sissy.

Berkshire_Eagle
Berkshire_Eagle

Here he goes again......knows as much about football as he does foreign policy. Don't worry about it, the media will give him a pass ...literally.

Rosie68
Rosie68

You don't have a son.....do you??  Please stop speculating on things that are not in your wheelhouse.

BarrySoetoro
BarrySoetoro

WE don't want yo son playin' football either,you scumbag.

swededawg52
swededawg52

I understand what our beloved Jayvee junior president is saying.  Pot heads just can't play football while in the purple haze.  His want a be son is dead in Florida too so his statement is pretty safe re; his son not playing football. 

ROLL TIDE1
ROLL TIDE1

32 teams would not let his son play pro football.  

DallasMorris
DallasMorris

Who gives a damn if u wouldn't let your kid play ball? No one cares.

caleb
caleb

We've all seen dad play basketball. If son has his athletic ability then I don't think this will ever be much of an issue for their family.

muser
muser

I'm sure he would be happier if he were gay, drug addicted and on welfare. That would help ensure the socialist power base...

crashtx1
crashtx1

He would "suggest" his kids not smoke pot but demand his son not play football. Hmmm.

GenaGoldsmith
GenaGoldsmith

Who cares what he thinks any more?  This article does not belong in the Super Bowl preview article line-up.

dash2k8
dash2k8

"There’s no game like football. It’s the type of sport that brings out the best in you, it kind of shows you who you are."


I'm sure the words came out wrong. Otherwise he'd be dissing all of baseball, basketball, track, hockey... you know, athletes in other sports by implying those sports do NOT bring out the best in you.

Thomas15
Thomas15

But he would let him be a 'Black Panther'. And he sho' nuff would let him join in the fun' of the Knoxville Terror. Because whitey's got it comin'. Ain't that what his, ahem….."Uncle Frank" taught him? 

Mark112
Mark112

The moron doesn't even have a son so why doesn't he STFU. BTW, why is Black unemployment higher under his presidency than those previous?

woody1290
woody1290

Well, he doesn't have one so it doesn't matter.

Marchoir
Marchoir

So Barack Hussein's son would not be permitted to play in the NFL? First of all, it's impossible to imagine his son being an athlete of any kind. Secondly, how would he plan on stopping a man in his twenties from doing whatever he wants? Finally, he doesn't have what it takes to produce a son.

David15
David15

The comments on Obama related posts on sports sites are must reads. Always ridiculous, never thoughtful.

OnTheRoad
OnTheRoad

If it were up to me, I would not allow Obama to be President!

MikeHiggins
MikeHiggins

yeah right. just read si any day and you'll see crimes, charges, misconduct---and that's administrators and coaches. as much as players. and of course, steroid etc use is not regulated like it is in football...how many a rods are there is us college and pro football? half? more than half? a quarter? we'll never know. how many times have seattle players been caught btw? fitting that they're in the bowl game

72FINS
72FINS

I'm sorry, remind me again how many 17 year olds are playing pro football?  If you're a grown man, I don't think you need "daddy's" permission to play pro football.  Kind of, yet another, stupid comment by Obama.

Billll
Billll

Good for him. Neither would I.

JollyRoger
JollyRoger

I will never, ever, permit my son to be a politician.

biggbulls
biggbulls

How many "sons" does this clown have?

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

I thought the President was a smoker?


gordonlhunt
gordonlhunt

Don't worry, I've seen your kids and they would probably last till the fifth round at best.

ScottWestover
ScottWestover

Uh, what studies are you looking at? Last time I checked weed doesn't cause concussions/brain damage

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

@coachesjimnjoy

I'd love to see your quality statistical analysis. What was the approach you took? The variables? The calculations? The peer review?

JulesG
JulesG

@Rosie68Yeah, because that is wrong for him to do...right?

drudown
drudown

@dash2k8 


That is not what the President is saying at all and you look foolish imputing a non sequitur meaning to it.


Say, would you agree it is more clear the GOP "disses" the Middle Class by, among other things, refusing to COLLECT income tax from Fortune 500 Corporations that could SUBSIDIZE the government [remember, the GOP SHUT IT DOWN instead of RAISING REVENUE like the express language of Article I, Section 8 REQUIRES?] But yes, sorry. You were whining about what exactly? Oh, that's right. The "imaginary dis" to "all of basketball, track blah blah blah." Here's a better question. If Obamacare has SLOWED Healthc Care costs to the LOWEST levels in 40 years, why is the GOP still trying to "kill" something that (1) clearly BENEFITS the BUDGET and (2) HELPS lower costs for taxpaying CONSUMERS and (3) IMPROVES the QUALITY of the services purchased? That's right, they are just serving their CORPORATE MASTERS and little trolls like you try to sow the seed of malcontent over phony issues because, truth be told, the GOP doesn't want to discuss the actual policies- just political gibberish that has no nexus to COST/BENEFIT to the People. So why don't you round up a posse and bring it. 

Berkshire_Eagle
Berkshire_Eagle

@David15 typical liberal, delusions of intellectual grandeur....just a lemming following your anointed dictator.  

Vinny Cordoba
Vinny Cordoba

@OnTheRoad, you know, it's the exclamation point at the end that really gives your comment its gravitas. It shows your conviction, your boldness, your commitment. Without the strategic and utterly brilliant inclusion of that exclamation point at the end of your comment, I would have just passed you off as just another drooling, dim-witted numbnuts with nary an original thought in your empty head. But that exclamation point turned me completely in your favor.

Whatever
Whatever

@MikeHiggins Seattle players have been caught using Adderol, not steroids. Big difference. Steroid use is highly regulated in the NFL, which learned its lesson from the likes of Lyle Alzado and others.

Jayhawk
Jayhawk

@72FINS Another unimportant opinion of an incapable president.

GeoffreyHolland
GeoffreyHolland

@72FINS to get to the level of being a pro, a player would start as a child. So obviously Obama wouldn't let his son play as a child, which would make it very difficult for such a person to become a pro football player with no experience playing the game. of course this takes thinking, so it's not surprising that you didn't figure it out. have a nice tea party!

Beldar Grazinski
Beldar Grazinski

@dash2k8 imputing... non sequitor.... you must be one brilliant dude to be throwing big words around to show your massive intellect.  

AbbyPalatino
AbbyPalatino

@Vinny Cordoba @OnTheRoad  you know, it's your use of buzz words like "gravitas" & "strategic" that turned me completely in your favor. Otherwise, I would have just passed you off as just another drooling, dim-witted numbnuts with nary an original thought in your empty head.

BrianMathews
BrianMathews

@GeoffreyHolland Ever heard of Antonio Gates? he never played a snap of organized football until his junior year of college. and now hes a perennial Al-Pro?

Nathan16
Nathan16

@GeoffreyHolland @72FINS Players have gone pro after starting football in college (or later). Most grew up in foreign countries where football means soccer, but even some Americans have made the jump. I believe there was one guy from ASU that was in the band in high school and was drafted to the pros.

72FINS
72FINS

@GeoffreyHolland @72FINS Then why say "pro" football?  Think about that and get back to me.  And if you think no one has ever made the NFL without having played as a child, well, no wonder Obama is your guy.  "Ya think?

Jayhawk
Jayhawk

@doghockey @Billll he definitely has ENTIRELY imaginary skills when it comes to leading the United States!

Vinny Cordoba
Vinny Cordoba

@AbbyPalatino, "strategic" is a "buzzword?" In that case, isn't "buzzword" a "buzzword?" Is that what they taught you while you were studying for your GED?