Obama glad NFL starting to take player concussions, safety issues ‘seriously’

President Obama on Sunday said he was glad the NFL was beginning to take the issue of concussions "seriously," even as he cautioned that the game would need to change to protect players better.

“I understand that [NFL] Commissioner [Roger] Goodell has authorized $30 million to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to help study issues of how we can prevent concussions,” Obama said during a pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS. “But these are serious issues, especially for younger kids, as well as college players who don’t make a big salary. We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep them safe.”

Obama warned football fans that their “game is probably going to have to evolve” to better address safety issues.

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“For those us of that like to see a big hit and enjoy the some of the rock ‘em, sock ‘em elements of the game, we’re probably going to be occasionally frustrated,” Obama said.

“I know some of the defensive players in the NFL get frustrated now because of some of the changes of the rules, but I do think we want to make sure after people have played the game, that they’re going to be OK,” Obama continued.

The comments followed Obama saying in a recent interview with The New Republic that he would be hesitant to allow a son to play football.


“No doubt some of the concerns that we’ve learned about when it comes to concussions have to give parents pause,” Obama said Sunday.

The president also reiterated that he was more concerned about non-professional football players.

“As I said before, I feel differently about the NFL,” Obama told CBS’s Scott Pelley. “These are grown men, they are well-compensated, they know the risked involved,” he said of professional athletes.

Obama said he was excited about the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

“It’s going to be a great game, I’ve got some wings waiting for me upstairs,” he said.

The president and first lady will be hosting a private party, joined by friends and family, according to a White House pool report. The report said they would serve Chesapeake crab cakes and San Francisco Cioppino stew with sourdough toast. The White House is also serving Anchor Steam and Clipper City, beers from San Francisco and Baltimore, respectively.

— Updated at 6:02 p.m.