One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL is dead set on putting an end to youth tackle football once and for all.
Brett Favre, who did his best work as a gunslinger in Green Bay but also played for the Jets and Vikings, is currently enjoying retirement in Mississippi. He's hunting, hanging with his grandkids and telling everyone who will listen that he's the guy who can end youth football.
"The body, the brain, the skull is not developed in your teens and single digits," he said. "I cringe. I see these little kids get tackled and the helmet is bigger than everything else on the kid combined. They look like they're going to break in half."
"I think it's going to take someone who has poured his blood, sweat and tears into it," he told the Daily Mail. Favre sees himself in a unique position to advocate for the end of youth football. He has seen both the glory and the horror of the sport.
Favre estimates that he's suffered "thousands" of concussions in his career. He knows the horror of getting up after a hard hit and not knowing where you are.
"You would never come out of the game for a concussion because nobody thought concussions were that bad," Favre said. "It was a matter of toughness. You didn't come out of a game because you were dinged, you saw stars, or fireworks are flashing — which are all results of a concussion, as we know now. Ear ringing, kind of like the dinner bell dining — 'time to come' — that should be a wake-up call: You just suffered a severe brain injury."
In a 2016 interview with Sports Illustrated, Favre described how he deals with the fear that his mind might be slipping. "I just try to put it away," he said.
These warnings, coming from a scientist or an activist, would carry less weight. But instead, they're coming from a three-time NFL MVP. Given his credentials, people might be more apt to listen when Favre, speaking of a state-level ban on tackle football, says, "We have to adopt this plan and all do it together."
Favre knows that, at this point, his bid to prevent kids from playing tackle football is a long shot. He also knows there are plenty of powerful people on the other side of the debate, including the President of the United States. But he remains undeterred.
"The President can say what he wants," said Favre. "It is a serious issue and it needs to be dealt with."