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Brett Favre joins call to ban tackle football for anyone under 14

Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 5:55 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Brett Favre is considered one of the toughest people every to play in the National Football League.

That toughness earned him a place in the NFL Hall of Fame.

But, that toughness likely came at a cost. Favre believes he suffered some memory loss due to concussions he received during his 20-year career.

Favre has teamed up with the Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation and supports calls to ban tackle football for anyone under the age of 14. Those children are encouraged to play flag football instead.

The concern is the children could develop the chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE if they play tackle football.

“CTE is not just an issue for professional football players, and for the highest level college football players,” said Tyler Maland, chief impact officer for Concussion Legacy Foundation.

It partnered with Boston University, and the Veterans Administration in 2019 to study CTE.

The report found 16 of 65 high school football players – who never played in college or professionally – suffered from CTE. 15 of those players started tackle football before the age of 14. The odds of developing CTE, according to the report, may increase by as much as 30% each year a person plays tackle football.

“So what that means is, if you started at age five, as compared to age 14, you would have 10 times the risk of developing the disease,” Maland said.

The MatSu Steelers are in the midst of another season of tackle football.

Kids from ages 5-15 make up the different teams that play around the state.

There’s widespread opposition to the proposed ban.

“The numbers, I wouldn’t say they’re not true. I just don’t know what the other activities those children were doing,” said Hans Deemer, one of the Steelers’ coaches. “The equipment’s changed, it’s more advanced. It just keeps going on and on and growing. The sport should be growing, not regressing. The safety’s better.”

Plus, coaches pointed out since 2010, they, and their players are required to go through the USA Football “Heads Up” football tackling program.

“It teaches them the proper way that you’re not using your head as a weapon or a missile,” said MatSu Steelers Commissioner Clint Spencer.

But, that, and improved equipment, are not enough for supporters of the ban.

“We absolutely believe youth tackle football should not exist at the lowest levels at the youngest ages,” Maland said.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation is not out to end tackle football. It said it just wants to create the safest environment for children to play it.

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