Brett Favre featured in powerful new PSA begging parents to keep children out of tackle football until age 14 to lower CTE risk
16 high school football players have been diagnosed with CTE, and all but one started playing tackle football before age 14
(BOSTON) – The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) released a gripping PSA today featuring Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre that begs parents to wait to enroll their children in tackle football until age 14. The PSA aims to educate parents on research showing that their child’s odds of developing CTE double every additional three years they play tackle football.
“Having kids play tackle football before high school is just not worth the risk,” said Favre, who started in a record 297 consecutive NFL games over 19 seasons and is widely regarded as the toughest man to ever play the game. “CTE is a terrible disease, and we need to do everything we can to prevent it for the next generation of football players.”
While the overall prevalence of CTE in the high school football population is unknown and cannot be determined from a brain bank sample, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Boston University – Concussion Legacy Foundation (VA-BU-CLF) Brain Bank reports that 16 of 65 high school football players – who never played in college or professionally – have been diagnosed with CTE. 15 of the 16 players with CTE started playing tackle football before age 14.
The odds of developing CTE may increase by 30% per year of tackle football played, according to a 2019 Brain Bank study of 266 deceased football players published in Annals of Neurology. That means a high school football player who started at age five, instead of age 14, might have 10x the odds of developing CTE.
“A football player’s odds of developing CTE may be most determined by their parents, specifically what age the child is allowed to start playing tackle football,” said Chris Nowinski, PhD, Concussion Legacy Foundation co-founder and CEO, a former All-Ivy League defensive tackle at Harvard University. “It’s time to accept that CTE is not just a risk for professional and college football players, but also for high school players, and the best way to prevent CTE among football players is to delay the introduction of tackle football to reduce the number of years played.”
The PSA shows a precocious young child begging his parents to delay signing him up for tackle football until he turns 14 because of the risk he may develop CTE. The child ages into a teen who explains that if he plays youth tackle football, he could already have CTE by the time he is in high school. The teen finally ages into an adult, played by Favre, who explains if he plays too many years of tackle football, he would be more likely to experience common symptoms associated with CTE like depression, problems with thinking, and even violent behavior towards his children – and none of those symptoms would be worth it when all he really wants as an adult is to be a good parent.
The mention of violence was inspired by the many children of football players diagnosed with CTE who have courageously revealed that their fathers were increasingly violent towards them and their siblings as their disease progressed.
The PSA implores parents to choose flag football instead of tackle for their children to reduce their exposure to repetitive head impacts. According to the CDC, in flag football a typical youth player will receive about 8 head impacts a year, while in tackle they will receive 378.
You can watch the PSA here. Video files for broadcast are available upon request.
Find more information at Favre4Flag.org.