Excerpts from NY Times original article by Talya Minsberg and 

The interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.  Click here for full article https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/21/sports/football/nfl-mothers-cte.html
We asked a handful of moms what it’s like to have a child in the league. They expressed support, excitement and anxiety.

Sandra Atkins

Her son, Geno Atkins, began playing football at 15. He was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and is still in the league.

How worried are you about C.T.E.?

He’s less worried about it than me. We pray before every game, we will ask for protection. A good game is one where you can walk off the field win or lose. If you can walk to the locker room after the game, that’s a good game.

Do you think football is more or less safe than other contact sports?

Look it’s a contact sport, and I worry for the younger kids playing. There’s no protection in soccer though, at least guys here have shoulder pads and kneepads.

If you knew what you know now about player safety, would you have still let your son play tackle football?

We know the risks but there’s risk in everything — I tell people that if he wanted to be a pilot and I’m not going to say ‘no don’t be a pilot, the plane could crash.’ It’s a great game and it’s been great for our family. I have no regrets.

Would you like to see your grandchildren playing tackle football?

Look I don’t think 9- or 10-year-olds need to be playing tackle football. Those are the guys I’m worried about. I have a grandson and if he wants to play I’d let him play. But starting in high school is fine — what are you doing in middle school? Go run track. Everybody needs to run.


Deena Moore’s son, Kyle, played four seasons in the league. “All sports have some kind of danger,” she said.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Deanna Moore

Her son, Kyle Moore, started playing football at 10. “He was a big kid and he had a lot of girth,” she said. “He could just drag kids down.” Kyle was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth round of the 2009 draft and played four seasons in the league.

How worried are you about C.T.E.?

It wasn’t until toward the end of his career when everything really started coming out about C.T.E. He wasn’t as concerned as I was, because when you are living out your dream, you aren’t worried about that kind of stuff.

Do you think football is more or less safe than other contact sports?

People think soccer is a great sport but watching them hit the ball with their head? I don’t think that’s any better than football. All sports have some kind of danger.

If you knew what you know now about player safety, would you have still let your son play tackle football?

If he had to do it all over again, he would do it. It was his dream. When people are living out their dreams, a lot of time, there’s not a lot a parent can say about it. You just keep your child in prayer, and hope when it’s all said and done they come out healthy, not having to deal with any type of memory issues.

Would you like to see your grandchildren playing tackle football?

Knowing what I know, I would prefer that they try another sport. At the same time, both of my grandsons are playing football. I’m hoping that they decide to play a sport that’s not contact.

Her son, Eric Berry, began playing football at 5. He was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2010 draft and played eight seasons in the league. He is currently a free agent.

How worried are you about C.T.E.?

Growing up he was always taught helmet safety and tackling correctly. Now that C.T.E. has come to light, I just pray that everything is O.K., that it doesn’t affect him later in life. But he’s a hard hitter, he’s a rough player.

Do you think football is more or less safe than other contact sports?

You can get knocked out in baseball, I’ve seen injuries in all of sports. I know part of the issue is the brain injuries, yes, but injuries are happening in every sport now.

If you knew what you know now about player safety, would you have still let your son play tackle football?

My husband and I both talk to our sons about protecting themselves, to play smart. They are the only ones that know their bodies. I can’t say ‘oh you aren’t going out.’ They’ve been trained from day one to go out and play smart.

Would you like to see your grandchildren playing tackle football?

I think it would probably be a good thing, as they would have more guidance from my husband and I. It would be an opportunity to educate and guide a player, as opposed to saying no.

“I’m not intimidated by the possibility of injury,” Lisa Hill said. Her son is a free agent in the N.F.L. Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

Lisa Hill

Her son, Jeremy Hill, began playing football at 8. He was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2014 draft. He is now a free agent.

How worried are you about C.T.E.?

Injury is at the forefront of your mind but you don’t let it govern or control your thoughts. When your child is on the field, if they don’t get up immediately, you get this rush of “oh my goodness.”

Do you think football is more or less safe than other contact sports?

Football is way more dangerous, especially as a running back. For the most part people don’t understand the risk that players endure every time they are on the field. And not just on the field for a game, but in training too. It’s a contact sport and these guys are 6 foot 5 inches and 300 pounds — this is not a game for the faint at heart.

If you knew what you know now about player safety, would you still let your son play tackle football?

Absolutely I would. You cannot allow what could or would happen diminish your ability to live your life. I’m not intimidated by the possibility of injury.

Would you like to see your grandchildren playing tackle football?

Absolutely, it’s a great American sport. If we didn’t have it I think it would diminish the world at large.