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Former Pro Bowl WR Joe Horn says fans would still pay to see flag football

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Joe Horn spent 12 years in the NFL as a wide receiver. At his peak, he was one of the best, earning four Pro Bowl nods in five years with the New Orleans Saints.

In that decade-plus, it stands to reason that Horn was on the receiving end of plenty of hits.

Now, Horn has three sons aspiring to play football like him. He told Tom Schad of USA Today he hopes they eventually reach an NFL drastically different from the one he played in:

"It might be touch football by then. And you know what? That’s good," Horn, who played 12 years in the NFL, told USA Today Sports on Monday. "Because if the people pay millions of dollars – if they pay their hard-earned money to see superstar athletes play tag football, it is what it is. It’s more safe.

"The old guys, the ex-football players can say (the old NFL was better) because they’re retired. If you have children – if you’re retired and you have kids that love the game of football – you really don’t want them coming up and playing like we played."

Horn reportedly praised some of the steps the NFL has taken to improve player safety, but he apparently thinks only a full upheaval will actually create a safe league:

"I think it should be flag football. I think the fans would still pay to see it," he said. "It’s hard to make it safe now. It’s hard for a guy to go full speed at you and stop in the middle of him going full speed, duck his head and not hit you with the helmet that he has on."

Horn was one of a number players named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the NFL over head trauma that eventually resulted in a $765 million settlement.

Despite that lawsuit, Horn’s eldest son, Joe Horn Jr., is currently fighting for a roster spot with the Baltimore Ravens after going undrafted this year out of Division II Missouri Western State. He has another son, Jaycee, who is a sophomore defensive back at South Carolina. Yet another, Jaycob, is a three-star recruit committed to Ole Miss.

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 17: Wide Receiver Joe Horn #87 of the New Orleans Saints runs with the ball against the Green Bay Packers on September 17, 2006 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Saints defeated the Packers 34-27. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
Joe Horn received plenty of hits during his 12-year NFL career. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)

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