Tuesday's SportsNation chat brought up a question many former football players, media members and fans have been asking in the wake of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau's suicide last week:
If you have a son would you ever let him play football?
Kevin Seifert (2:10 PM)
That's an entire essay. The short version is I would be torn and I'm not sure what I would do.
John of Chicago later suggested the topic as a future post. As it turns out, we addressed the same issue almost exactly a year ago in response to the suicide of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson. It's one of the most interesting "Have at It" posts we've done, and you guys and gals wrote thoughtfully and passionately about the topic.
Readers and commenters tend to turn over during the course of a year, so if you didn't participate last time, feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section below. I'll decide whether to follow up with a response post if your answers take us into new territory.
I'll remind you of where I landed, which was to echo the thoughts of Mjoldnir, who put it better than I ever could have. Here's what he wrote:
"I played football for as long as I could, beginning with pee-wee, and through high school. I wasn't good enough for the college game by a longshot! But I loved everything about being on a football team: practices in the dirt and mud, the camaraderie, even the coach grabbing my facemask and screaming at me when I botched a play. Football pushed me past the point where I might have otherwise given up, and instilled the values of determination, work ethic and teamwork. Especially teamwork.
"I love how everything I did was part of a bigger picture, how a missed block on the backside of a play could wind up blowing the play up. It taught me to sweat the little stuff, to see the big picture, and to always have the backs of the people on my team. That's carried over to my career and even my personal life. These are huge life lessons that I'm not sure I could have learned as effectively from any other sport or endeavor.
"And yet I pray my son never asks me to sign a permission slip to play football, because I don't know if I could tell him no. I want my son to learn those life lessons. Maybe even a shredded knee would be worth it. But I don't want my boy -- the most precious thing in my life -- to risk damaging his brain."