President Obama said that he believed NFL players “know what they’re doing” and understood the impact that concussions could have on their long-term health in an interview with The New Yorker published on Sunday, adding that he would not let his son play pro football.
In August, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement in a lawsuit brought against the league by former players. The league did not admit any liability or that brain injuries were the result of playing football, but the money will be split among former players and medical researchers. A federal judge has not yet approved the deal.
Existing research has shown that repeated concussions can be associated with memory loss and behavioral changes. They’re also linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease.
The president made the comments while speaking aboard Air Force One with David Remnick, the magazine’s editor and a former sportswriter for The Washington Post.
Obama said that while the risks were understood, if he had a son, he would not allow him to play professional football.
“I would not let my son play pro football,” he said. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”