The concerns over long-term health effects of playing football has been a hot button issue, to say the least. Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic scientist whose story is told in the film Concussion, suggested last month that children shouldn’t be playing high-impact sports until they’re 18.

Former Chicago Bears head coach and current ESPN analyst Mike Ditka doesn’t take as drastic a viewpoint but is speaking in a similar vein, telling Jared Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune that he wouldn’t deny his kids the chance to play football, but would steer them towards a safer sport like golf.

“Well, let’s say you’re a father right now, and you’ve got a [young] kid. So what do you tell them? People ask me the question. I would never discourage my son from playing football or baseball or anything else, but I would probably say ‘Hey, listen, you ought to try golf.’ Seriously. And I think that’s what’s going to happen to a degree. And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

Ditka’s comments come on the heels of former Bear Mike Pyle being posthumously diagnosed with degenerative brain disease, a diagnosis far too common among former football players. Pyle died back in July at the age of 76.

The ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown analyst isn’t the only prominent sports figure to say he wouldn’t let his kids play football. Both LeBron James and Joe Namath are among the many to voice their opinions against allowing kids to participate in the dangerous game.

This isn’t the first time Ditka made these type of comments, either. When appearing on a January episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the coach was asked if he had an eight-year-old kid now, would he let the child play football? Ditka said he wouldn’t. “I think the risk is worse than the reward,” he told Gumbel. “I really do. His remarks can be seen at the 2:36 mark of this video:

Ditka’s voice speaks volumes. The more former players and coaches speak up for player safety in football, the more likely better practices will be taken to ensure kids don’t suffer traumatic injuries. Given reports that the NFL just this week allegedly pulled funding for a major brain study, it’s hard to tell if the league truly cares about the issue. Hopefully, people like Ditka speaking out awakens their sensibilities.

[For The Win]

About Liam McGuire

Social +Staff writer for The Comeback & Awful Announcing.