Here is an excerpt from the president’s interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker:
Obama spent his flight time in the private quarters in the nose of the plane, in his office compartment, or in a conference room. At one point on the trip from Andrews Air Force Base to Seattle, I was invited up front for a conversation. Obama was sitting at his desk watching the Miami Dolphins–Carolina Panthers game. Slender as a switch, he wore a white shirt and dark slacks; a flight jacket was slung over his high-backed leather chair. As we talked, mainly about the Middle East, his eyes wandered to the game. Reports of multiple concussions and retired players with early-onset dementia had been in the news all year, and so, before I left, I asked if he didn’t feel at all ambivalent about following the sport. He didn’t.
“I would not let my son play pro football,” he conceded. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”
The Miami defense was taking on a Keystone Kops quality, and Obama, who had lost hope on a Bears contest, was starting to lose interest in the Dolphins. “At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” he went on. “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?”
Obama chewed furtively on a piece of Nicorette. His carriage and the cadence of his conversation are usually so measured that I was thrown by the lingering habit, the trace of indiscipline. “I’m not a purist,” he said.
In summary, the president believes the reports that football is dangerous, to the point where he wouldn’t let his son play, but he loves watching the sport because those big lugs on the field know what they’re getting into.
Anyway, the chances of a high school football player reaching the NFL are about 215 out of 100,000, or 0.2%. If there’s a concussion issue in football, it’s at the high school and college level. By the time players reach the NFL, I’m in the camp that thinks any damage from concussions has already occurred before a player ever plays a down in the NFL.
Exit question: If the president thinks the NFL is too dangerous for his fictitious son, what about the military?