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Steve Weatherford on player safety: ‘Goodell has taken steps every single year to make the game safer’

New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford decided to donate his brain to science following his eventual death. The 9-year NFL veteran discussed his reasoning behind the decision, the concussion culture of football, and the steps the National Football League is taking to prevent concussions from continuing to be a life-threatening injury.

“Being a father and having three daughters and a son and knowing my son is chomping at the bit to play football, I’m going to do everything I can to make this game safer,” Weatherford told the Jim Rome Show. “It’s not just about athletes. It’s about people in general and about brain health and being able to learn how to take care of your brain.”

After family reasons for donating his brain to science, Steve said two individuals inspired the decision: Steve Gleason and Junior Seau.

“One of my dearest friends, former teammates, and good friend Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS after an eight-year career and in addition to that I became very good friends with a neighbor of mine, Junior Seau, who took his own life, and I think a lot of the reason for the dark depression he was in was because of brain trauma.”

Weatherford discussed his relationship with the late Junior Seau and how the symptoms of traumatic brain injury only became apparent to him after Seau’s suicide.

“I didn’t become friends with him until he was 32 years old, so I didn’t know him before he got his ‘cage rattled’ and for me, it was just, I just always thought that’s how Junior was, and there was definitely tell tale sign of depression and anxiety, even when he was playing. In the offseason when we would train together almost every single day, and then there’d go two months where he won’t answer his phone, he wouldn’t return phone calls, you go by his house and all the lights are off, so I just thought that was, that’s how he’s always been.”

Unlike others, Weatherford doesn’t place blame on current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but rather praised him for the steps he has taken to improve NFL safety.

“I don’t want to make this about, you know, ‘the NFL is bad’ or anything because it is not. I think since Roger Goodell has taken office, he’s been taking steps every single year to make the game safer, he’s making hits to the head a personal foul, 15-yard penalty, he’s moved the kickoff from the 30-yardline to the 35-yardline to try and eliminate a lot of the head-on collisions that are incurred during the kickoffs. The NFL is doing it’s best and I don’t think they’re ever going to take head trauma completely out of the game, but they are taking it in a safer direction.”

When asked what the appropriate age for kids to start playing contact football, Weatherford shared how he and his wife are raising their own son and their decision about when to allow him to play contact football.

“I think when my son is 16 years old…I think at that point he’s going to be starting to hit adolescence of puberty and he’s going to start maturing a little bit. He’s going to be a little more conscience of his body.”

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