Report: Brady Sr. would hesitate to let Brady play

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Report: Brady Sr. would hesitate to let Brady play

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."

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

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Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on ESPN.com on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

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Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. 

NFL.com contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).