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Tom Tangney
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San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh talks with reporters during a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in New Orleans. The 49ers are scheduled to play the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game on Feb. 3. Jim said he's got high expectations for his only five-month-old son's future football career. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Ahead of Super Bowl, violence in football becomes topic of conversation

It's been pretty remarkable that in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, we've been hearing so much talk about the dangers of football, America's #1 sport.

Much of that talk grew out of comments President Obama made to The New Republic. After admitting to being a big football fan, Obama said that if he had a son, he'd have to think long and hard before he'd let him play football. He suggested the game should gradually try to reduce the level of violence - it would be better for the players and fans, the President said, we wouldn't have to "examine our consciences so much."

This week also saw the NFL Player's Union dedicate $100 million to a massive Harvard investigation into why NFL players live an average of 20 years less than the average man in this country.

Naturally, these issues came up in interviews with the players and coaches in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Superstar safety Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens was quick to respond to the President's concerns about the game. "I'm with the President! I'm with Obama. The President obviously has a bunch of feelings about it. I'm sure he's a sports fan, he watches sports, and I agree with him."

Reed is one of the hardest-hitting players in the game and he has $100,000 in fines to prove it, but that doesn't mean he wants his kid to follow in his footsteps.

"Like I said, I'm with Obama because I have son," said Reed. "You can't make decisions for him at the end of the day, all I can do is say 'Son, I played it so you don't have to.'"

Reed's teammate Bernard Pollard, an equally vicious hitter, actually predicts the demise of the NFL in another 20 or 30 years. He says, the way things are going, he believes it's only a matter of time before someone actually dies on the gridiron. And if the NFL goes in the opposite direction and manages to regulate the violence out of the game, then fans will eventually lose interest in it altogether.

The now famous Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, the Super Bowl coaches of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers respectively, beg to differ not only with Reed and Pollard but with the President as well.

Jim told the press, "Well I have a 4-month-old, soon to be 5-month-old son, Jack Harbaugh. If President Obama feels that way it will be a little less competition for Jack when he gets older. That's the first thing that jumps into my mind - if other parents are thinking that way. It's still early, like I said Jack is only 5 months old. But he's a really big kid. He's got an enormous head," said Jim, "It's early, but expectations are big for young Jack."

Maybe, just maybe, young Jack will use that big head of his and decide not to risk his life playing football.

Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
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By day, you can hear Tom on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, and by night, he sits in the dark, making snide comments about what he sees on the silver screen.

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