Roger Goodell: I Would Encourage My Son To Play Football

Concussions increased 32 percent in this past season from the previous one.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has hit back at claims the sport is dangerous, saying that if he had a son, he would hope he played.

His comments come after a spike in concussions and a study finding that 76 out of 79 deceased NFL players showed signs of a degenerative brain disease.

"I would not only want him to play football, I would certainly encourage him to do it and I would let him do it," the father of two daughters said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday.

"There are tremendous values from playing the game of football," he added, noting that "there are risks involved with anything in life."

In the deceased players study, researchers from the VA/BU repository -- once the “preferred” brain bank of the NFL -- found that out of 128 it examined, 101 tested positive for the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.

Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died in 2015 of colon cancer, had also suffered from CTE, his doctor told ESPN this week.

The number of concussions in the NFL rose in 2015-2016 to 271 -- the highest count in the past four years -- up from 206 in 2014-2015. 

Numbers will "go up and they're going to go down in any given season," Goodell said, "but screenings went up 108 percent and also we saw more self-reporting from players and teammates," he said. "That's what I call the culture change."

The league has a history of reforming the rules to enhance safety, he said. Most recently, they've invested $100 million in brain disease research.

The approach the NFL needs to take is to "make sure we show people how to get the most out of playing sports and doing it safely," he said.

Other initiatives the football league has adopted include the "Heads Up" program, which teachers players to tackle without using their heads, and the placement of independent neurologists on all sidelines to evaluate injured players.

The Denver Broncos face off against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 this Sunday in San Francisco.


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