Kurt Warner is a two time NFL MVP who has a Super Bowl ring on his finger and a potential Hall of Fame seat waiting for him in the future. Without football in his life, Warner might still be bagging groceries and fighting to pay the bills like the rest of us average Americans.
That being said, the man has recently come under fire for what many are seeing as 'anti-NFL' comments concerning whether or not he would allow his children to play football.
Warner has publicly hinted that he wouldn't allow his children to play the game, citing the dangers of it, and his comments have sparked an outcry that he is not grateful for what the sport has given him and that he is possibly against it.
On Monday night, Warner went on NFL Network's Total Access to try to clear up his stance on this issue.
"A lot of people want to look at this and say, 'Well, you either love the game and all of the things that come with it, or you hate the game, and you want to destroy it.' For me, neither is the case," Warner said.
"I love this game, and I love what it did for me and my family. I love so many aspects about it that can teach kids and taught me and created who I am today through what I learned in this game. But at the same time, I have concerns. I understand the risks, I understand what goes in and what the cost can be to play this game. When you look at it from a football player's (perspective), there is no doubt I love this game, and I'm passionate about it.
"But when I look at as a father, I still have those concerns, and I worry about it when my kids go out to play. And then when you look at the other side, it's not a hate, I don't want to ruin this game. I want to prolong this game, I want to preserve it for generations to come, but we have to continue to be honest and we have to continue to dialogue about those concerns, those risks and continue to work together as a group. Those that are critics of me, those that don't agree with what I say — we have to work together as a group along with the commissioner, the NFL, leagues all the way down to those like Pop Warner and say how can we make this game safe. How can we continue to try to eliminate those concerns, or at least minimize those for parents?"
With the recent suicide of Junior Seau and all the evidence coming to light of the long term ramifications of concussions, any parent taking a second thought on their children wanting to play football is expected. For Warner, who was the recipient of a bounty by the Saints for his injury, the realities of the NFL are even clearer.
Also clearer for Warner is the reality of caring for someone who has suffered traumatic brain injury, as one of his sons deals with this condition due to a childhood accident.
"I deal with a son who is 22 years old that deals with a traumatic brain injury (the result of a childhood accident), so my situation from that standpoint is even different than others.” Warner said. “It's disappointing that you can't have an opinion, and it can't start dialogue. It's OK to differ, it's OK to disagree with my opinion, but I always hope that it can start dialogue. Everybody can share their points of view and we can combine all of that to make a better world or a better game for those that are growing up and that are going to play."
Change is a difficult process and the NFL — even football as a whole — is undergoing a drastic one with regards to player safety during play and after retirement. Maybe Warner is nibbling the hand that fed him with his comments, but you can't fault the real concern for his children and for the game behind them.
Something has to be done to stop this rash of injuries and deaths while preserving the integrity of the game. What that something is, though, is beyond me. But one thing is for certain, nothing can be accomplished without openly talking about it, like Warner is doing.
Communication is key and people shouldn't be bashed for wanting to spark it.
Photo Credit: AP
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.