Injuries, and concussions in particular, could be threatening the popularity of football among the American youth. Concerned parents can't be blamed if they see how head trauma affects football players and then decide to keep their own children away from the game.
Kurt Warner -- the man who went from grocery store worker to national icon because of football -- already said he would rather his sons not play.
Tom Brady's father, Tom Sr., told Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports that given all the information he knows now, he might have kept Tom Jr. away from the football field.
"I would be very hesitant to let him play," Brady Sr. said.
"Tommy did not play football until he was 14, because we didn't think he was physically developed enough to play the sport," Brady Sr. added. "It's the same reason I wouldn't let him throw a curveball until that age. I told him, 'If I see you throw a curve, I will pull you right off this field,' and he knew I meant it.
"This head thing is frightening for little kids. There's the physical part of it and the mental part it's becoming very clear there are very serious long-term ramifications. I think Kurt Warner is 100 percent correct. He's there to protect his children, and these other people who are weighing in are not addressing the issue of whether it's safe or not for kids. All this stuff about, 'He made his fame and fortune off of football,' that's true but we didn't know then what we know now. Apparently, they don't take their own parenting responsibility very seriously, or they don't value their children's health as much as they should."
It was former NFL star Randy Cross who convinced Brady Sr. that his son should wait until his early teens before strapping on the pads. In 1985, Cross visited St. Gregory elementary school in San Mateo, Calif., where Brady Sr. was the volunteer athletic director.
"Randy Cross came in and talked to the kids, and afterward, I asked him, 'If you had kids, when would you let your son play?' " Brady Sr. said. "He said, 'Fourteen. That's about when they're developed.' That was always in the back of my mind.
"That was 27 years ago. We know so much more now; we know that not only is the body not physically developed to play football at five, six and seven, but we know the neck and the brain aren't, either. At that time, we thought it was kind of heroic to play at a young age. Now, with the flow of information coming at us, it's obvious the bodies of little people are not structured to absorb the hits."
Brady is now 34, but Brady Sr. still worries about his son. Especially when it comes to head trauma.
"Absolutely," Brady Sr. said. "That never goes away. The answer is yes, I'm concerned. He claims that he's only been dinged once or twice, but I don't know how forthright he's being. He's not gonna tell us, as his parents, anything negative that's going on. I wouldn't be shocked that he would hide that."
All that said, and with all the information that's now out there, Brady Sr. said he'd still probably allow his son to play football. But he wouldn't do it lightly.
"If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him," he said. "But it would not be an easy decision, at all."