Former Rep. Largent: Government should let NFL address head injuries

Largent said that players could weigh the risks of physical play and decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to pursue a career in professional football.

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"I think if studies come out and show that playing football is detrimental to your health for the long-term, even for the short-term, I think that's up to the players then to make the decision about whether they're going to play or not play, and that they should be armed with all of the latest statistics and information and research on that," Largent said in an interview with Bloomberg Government's Capital Gains released Thursday.

"We don't need the government telling people what they can and can't do," he added.

Largent's comments come as the NFL has faced pressure to introduce new measures to prevent head injuries in response to a number of suicides by former players. A number of studies on the long-term impact of football head injuries suggest that the blows to the head can cause serious long-term damage.

In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to brain injury research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, and commissioner Roger Goodell met last year with members of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

President Obama was recently asked about football and head injuries in an interview with The New Republic.

"I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," Obama said.

The president added that he expects the game to change over time.

"In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much," Obama said.

On Sunday, the NFL season will conclude with the 2013 Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.