Meet the Press   |  February 02, 2014

Will Football's Popularity Decline?

David Gregory discusses the popularity of pro football and whether it will be affected by the current concerns surrounding the sport.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> here's what the president said, alan, in his interview with the new yorker. he said i would not let my son play pro football . at this point, there's a little bit of caveat emt tore he went on. these guys 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, in other words, smokers know it can kill them and they still smoke. it's not so helpful that the president said it's no longer a secret because that suggests at one point maybe it was. to you, danger ahead for football?

>> i don't think so. even if participation declines 10 or 20% in the youth and high school ranks, that's still tons of players. tons of enthusiasm. tons of small towns and friday night lights. if the next tom brady 's father in fact does not let him play, tom brady was a fantastic baseball player. maybe he would have turned pro if baseball. but then somebody else is going to lead the new england patriots. i think football is going to be just fine. they will slow down the game, make it a little less reckless. hopefully actually enforce the tackling rules that have been in place since the early '70s. these kinds of things can change the sport into something that is far less dangerous.

>> but tony, to me it's a culture issue, right? i mean, look, there's plenty of fan who's say let the guys play the way they play and don't try to diminish the sport in that way. but here's the example i think of as a fan. alex smith playing for the 49ers, gets a concussion. what happens? he loses his job. that's what happens. they went on to colin kaepernick who is now a superstar. smith is still doing great over at kansas city . this is a culture thing. these guys know how tough it is, but until they buy into the idea they've got to protect themselves, it gets very hard, doesn't it?

>> we have to get that across. that is one of the things the nfl has worked on, getting guys to report or getting more people looking at them and making sure that when a player does have a concussion, that it it is dealt with and treated. i can tell you in my 13 years as a head coach, i never had a player tell me, boy, i don't feel great but the doctors say i'm okayen an i can go back in there. no, they do tell you. the doctors are holding me out, i can play coach, let me in. we have to work on that part of the culture. i think we're doing that. i think the nfl is doing things to make the game safer all the way up.

>> are they not getting it in any respect in the nfl ? do you think they're still missing something that's important?

>> players want to play. there's no question about that. i do think the educational process, we are getting things across. it is getting better and players do understand that they have to look out for their future.

>> yeah.

>> real quick.

>> i think the league has a lot of influence over youth football, high school football . they make a big thing about usa football and all the efforts that they're making. perhaps there can be a rule that will ultimately develop that you can't crush a chide in the head just because he's holding a football and just because the helmet met the standard at the time of manufacture, perhaps they should make sure it still has safety properties two years later. they don't do that now.

>> alan schwartz , tony dungy . thanks so much. will peyton win it today, tony?

>> i think so. i'm pulling