President questions safety of football

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he's a football fan but that if he had a son, considering the impact the game has on its players, he would think long and hard before allowing his son to play.

Obama tells The New Republic that football fans are going to have to wrestle with the fact that the game will probably change over time to try to reduce the violence.

The president says that some of those changes might make football, in his words, "a bit less exciting" but that it will be much better for players.

"And those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much," he said.

The interview appears in the Feb. 11 issue of The New Republic.

Obama says he worries more about college players than those in the NFL because the pros have a union, are well-paid and are grown men.

"They can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies," Obama said of NFL players. "You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded Sunday: "We have no higher priority than player health and safety at all levels of the game."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.