Shaun O'Hara was a three time Pro Bowler for the New York Giants and was an instrumental aspect of protecting Eli Manning during the team's 2007 Super Bowl run. During his time in Blue, O'Hara was was the Giants team representative to the players union, a role that he took great pride in. Overall, O'Hara was a prominent, outspoken member of the Giants throughout his seven year career with Big Blue. He's currently an analyst for NFL network, which has provided him a platform to give his opinion on a variety of issues.
Today, O'Hara voiced his rather strong opinion on President Obama's comments regarding player safety. Obama recently told the New Republic that he would have reservations about whether he would allow his own son (if he had one) to play football. O'Hara believes that the President's comments were misguided.
"I guess my knee-jerk reaction is, to me, that's an irresponsible statement by the president," said former New York Giants center Shaun O'Hara. "I know he's not the first one to say it, but being the president, I think he could be more responsible than that."
O'Hara later continued to say that he would encourage his own son to play football.
"If my son wanted to play football, I would absolutely let him. I would drive him," O'Hara said. "But I would teach him, because it's just like anything. You wouldn't give your son a circular saw and let him go and start whittling wood. You would teach him how to use that. So my issue is, when I hear parents say, 'I don't want him to play football,' well, it's because you don't want to take the time to teach him how to do it right. Or you don't know how to teach him right. So that to me is a big sticking point. When I see kids that want to play football, I just want them to learn it the right way. We need to make sure our coaches are teaching our kids the right way to do things."
There is a lot of truth to the point O'Hara is trying to convey. As the NFL continues to grow it's brand and gathers larger audiences, there is going to be a bigger microscope on player safety now than ever before. Every time a player leads with his head to make a tackle, kids are going to be watching. Every time a player makes a horse collar tackle, kids are going to be watching. Every time an offensive linemen chop blocks an unsuspecting defender, kids are going to be watching and they will take what they see on Sunday's as an example of how to play the game themselves.
It's important that players receive proper coaching at the youth levels, so by the time they make it to the NFL ranks, they have been trained to protect themselves throughout the course of the game. Obviously, football is a physically demanding sport that is going to result in some injuries. No matter what level a player is competing at, that's a risk that he must be willing to take. However, it's on the parents and coaches to help minimize that risk.
Also…Eli Manning, Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Shaun O'Hara, Super Bowl