Well, now, Kurt Warner wants his kids to play football. But he didn't on Thursday morning, when he was on "The Dan Patrick Show" talking about the dangers of pro football. Here's the money quote, via PFT:
Asked if he would prefer that his sons not play football, Warner answered, "Yes, I would. Can't make that choice for them if they want to, but there's no question in my mind."
Former Giants receiver Amani Toomer, taking what is perhaps an abnormal interest in the sporting futures of Kurt Warner's children, didn't care for that response. Later Thursday on NBC "SportsTalk," Toomer let loose a little about Warner and his opinions.
"I'd definitely have my son to play football," Toomer said. "That's what the Toomer family does. We all play football. But what this reminds me of is the guy at the basketball court, who once he gets done playing takes the ball and ruins the game for everybody else. I think Kurt Warner needs to keep his opinions to himself when it comes to this. Everything that he's gotten in his life has come from playing football. He works at the NFL Network right now. For him to try and trash the game, it seems to me that it's just a little disingenuous to me."
Kurt Warner is roughly the 19,438,342nd person to express concern about the dangers of playing in the NFL. Why Warner's opinion in particular irked Toomer so much, I don't know.
But Warner heard Toomer's concerns, evidently, and he later sort of recanted his opinion on "Hill and Schlereth" on ESPN Radio. Snippets:
"Yeah, I want my kids to play and I want them to be healthy and I'd love them to have a great long career whether that's collegiate, whether that's professional. I'd love all that. But as a parent I can't avoid the fact that it's a dangerous sport, and it's a violent sport.
"At the end of the day, I'd love for them to play football. If they don't play football and never suffer an injury doing anything, I'm going to be an extremely [happy] parent as they move into the rest of their life and take care of their family and their kids. So I don't know why I would have to keep my comments to myself. I'm speaking as a father. But I love the game of football and I'll always love it and I'm so appreciate of what it did for me."
Is it possible that Kurt Warner was caught up in the bounty scandal, and maybe the disturbing death of Junior Seau, and said something he didn't totally think through? Yes. Is it possible that Amani Toomer loves the game of football and overreacted to a perceived slight of the game (and perhaps of his parenting)? Yes.
Is it OK if you and I don't care what Amani Toomer and Kurt Warner decide to do with their children? I hope so, because I really don't care.
It's just not my place. Kurt Warner's allowed to be concerned for his children and their involvement in football; in fact, as a parent, you'd be crazy not to be concerned. But that doesn't mean it's right or wrong to let them play. There is no right answer there. And even as we learn more about concussions, brain injuries and CTE, there's never going to be a right answer.
There will always be tough choices for parents to make. Do you let your kids play football? Do you let them go really high on the swing set? Do you let them throw snowballs at each other? Do you let them gamble their allowance at a local underground cockfighting ring?
Who knows? They're all gray areas for parents (except maybe that last one). But Kurt Warner doesn't have to keep his opinions to himself, and Amani Toomer doesn't have to agree with his parenting decisions. There can't be enough discussion of these things. Both men grew up in the game and all three opinions are valid ‒ Warner's, Toomer's, and then Warner's revised one.