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Trainers assist Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (7) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. The Ravens defeated the Chiefs 9-6. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

From injury prevention to cruel cheers: Mack Strong calls football a 'war zone'

There is something that professional football players understand that fans, young athletes, their parents and even doctors may not understand: The field is a war zone.

It's a war zone that comes with real danger, according to former Seahawk Mack Strong. The risks involve not only the outcome of the game, but the well being of the athletes who play it.

That's why head injuries have become such a commonplace topic in recent years. In the NFL, more players have been fined for aggressive contact. In schools and in peewee leagues, parents have been warned about the risks to their young players.

In a report out Monday, one doctor made the recommendation that children younger than 14 shouldn't be tackling.

He said kids could learn the fundamentals of tackle football, but should use dummies and not each other.

Strong has kids that age. The age where they could start playing tackle football.

"I have my own personal preferences to look at how they go about playing football," Strong told KIRO Radio's John Curley. "Right now they play flag football, and I'm fine with that. I didn't start playing tackle football until I was a freshman in high school."

Strong said that while his mother wasn't a doctor, she sensed the danger that came along with playing football. He was kind of a skinny kid and his mom wanted him to be a little more grown up before taking to the field. He started playing tackle football as a freshman in high school.

A neck injury ended his 15 year career.

Those kind of career and life ending injuries should be something that are discussed, Strong said.

"Anytime you're talking about concussions, I think it's OK to really talk about that vehemently, accurately, (and have) both sides of the argument on that case."

Strong said that conversation has lead to over a million dollars in research as well as stricter guidelines on gear that protects players from injury.

While more players are protected from life-altering injuries and more players are being fined for plays that put others at risk, sometimes it's not apparent that fans understand the risks of the NFL "war zone."

On Sunday, fans cheered following the blow that knocked out Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel.

Strong felt for Cassel's family and the team. "What's really important in life is not football," said Strong.

When people are cheering for injuries, John Curley had to ask, are we losing perspective on the game?

According to Strong, "When you have people doing stuff like that? Absolutely."

Alyssa Kleven, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Alyssa Kleven is an editor and content producer at MyNorthwest.com. She enjoys doting over her adorable dachshund Winnie - named for Arcade Fire front-man Win Butler.
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