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Former NFL Quarterback Addresses Football Player Safety Concerns - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Former NFL Quarterback Addresses Football Player Safety Concerns

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Athletes in harm’s way, especially noticeable among the professionals, who take an incredible pounding. Some suffer career-ending injuries. Others must deal with lifelong brain damage. It’s a danger on many levels, from the NFL to our local players here in the Valley.

Football is a game for the senses: the sight of the football leaving the thrower’s hand, the sound of the referee’s whistle, the touch of stiff pads, and the smell of wet grass at an autumn evening practice. All of these senses are controlled by the brain, but it’s the traumatic injuries to the brain that have many worried about letting their children step on the gridiron.

The safety of the game of football is a topic that Superbowl Champion Quarterback Marc Wilson can understand. Wilson spoke with several groups throughout the day around Fargo, including the NDSU Bison and the West Fargo Packers. Wilson, a friend of West Fargo Freshman Football Team Head Coach Brent Lundgren, said football’s a great game, but it’s not the right game for everyone.

“If they [parents] have those concerns, then there’s a lot of other things that son can do,” Wilson explained.

Wilson shared with Valley News Live his fond memories of the game from after school practices as a youngster to winning on the game’s biggest stage. He said he supports recent injury related lawsuits and thinks they are good for the game. He said he walked away unscathed, but many of his teammates did not. Recently, the 1983 Superbowl winning Oakland Raiders held a reunion to celebrate their past victory. Wilson said it was both joyful seeing old friends but torturous to see them feeling the effects of a brutal sport.

“But it was sad in the sense that some guys are really suffering the effects of the game, some much more so than others. And it was sad to see that,” he lamented.

Is the brutality of the game of football lost on younger generations?

Aspiring athlete Andy Gravdahl, Quarterback of the Freshman Team, said he’s not concerned with getting injured.

“I know some people that just get hurt all the time and they’re pretty scared about it,” he explained. “But I’m not. I haven’t gotten hurt in football yet.”

Andy’s Head Coach, Brent Lundgren echoed Wilson’s earlier statements. Lundgren said you have to weigh the pros and cons of the game: learning important life skills versus crippling injury.

“The question is, is it worth it to have that experience,” he said.

Coach Lundgren outlined the detailed procedure West Fargo implements for players suspected of having a concussion. The process includes pulling the player from the game and rigorous cognitive testing. He wanted to stress to Valley News Live that not every player will sustain a concussion or injury and many go their whole playing careers without issue.

Wilson offered some advice to the Packers team. He also added that he feels there are some areas of concern that need to be addressed on the issue of player safety.

“There are some things that I think need to change to make it safer for kids, and college kids, high school kids, even littler kids in little league, and even in the pros as well,” he said.

Wilson said as the father of children playing football, he shares the same concerns as many local parents. Wilson played for two franchises throughout his decade-long football career: the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots. He was a member of the 1983 Superbowl winning Raiders.
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