Nightly News   |  January 01, 1910

Brett Favre ‘leery’ of allowing a son to play football

Pop Warner youth football numbers are down as more is being learned about the dangers of the game – namely head injuries. Retired quarterback Brett Favre said if he had a son, he’d be “real leery” of him playing – and he’s “almost glad” he doesn’t have a son “because of the pressures he would face.” NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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

>>> for nfl fans, this being friday night means sunday is getting closer. we'll be watching as we do every week. but watching the game has changed in varying degrees. for a lot of us who played and loved the sport it's because of what we now know about the heavy price paid by veterans of the game, many entering mental old age while in their 40s. now another nfl great is speaking out about head injuries injuries. ron mott is in west orange , new jersey under the friday night lights. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening to you. it's the mountaineers and the soaring eagles tonight. we'll hear a lot of cheering. there will probably also be worried parents because on every play there will be a little bit of violence. in football, the hits just keep on coming and the warnings are sounding louder than ever. one of the game's legends, retired quarterback brett favre told "today's" matt lauer the hard hits have affected his memory.

>> when you start forgetting things that are so obvious, they should be so easy to remember, that's scary.

>> reporter: the concern overhead injuries in particular pushed many parents to throw the flag, pulling or keeping their sons off the field. pop warner , the nation's largest youth football program says nearly 10% fewer kids are playing than just three years ago. in a statement to nbc news, pop warner 's executive director said there is no hard data that links participation numbers with the fear of concussions. for the dell judas family near chicago football is in the dna. scott plays despite two concussions. so does 9-year-old anthony. sister maddie is a cheerleader.

>> nervous every time they snap the ball. nervous but hopeful he'll do what he needs to do to do his position well and protect the people he's protecting and himself.

>> reporter: football has a long history of producing long lasting aches and bruises and sometimes more serious consequences. in missouri a high school player, chad stover, died thursday, two weeks after suffering a brain injury in a game. in suburban atlanta, another high school player died after breaking his neck during a preseason scrimmage. even favre questions if he would let his son play now if he had one.

>> i would be leery of oh hhim playing. i'm almost glad i don't have a son because of the pressures he faces.

>> reporter: america's game may be tackling its biggest challenge yet. we reached out today to facebook followers and one of them said they will not allow their son to play saying his life is not a game. another parent who supports football says it needs to be played smarter. brian?

>> ron mott, a football veteran himself on the jersey gridiron. you'll want to see the full conversation with brett favre . it's a revealing conversation. it will air monday on "today."