NFL players react to Obama's opinions on football

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NFL players react to Obama's opinions on football

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs respects and understands President Barack Obama's opinion about the dangers of football - and hesitation about having a child play.

The hard-hitting 2011 Defensive Player of the Year also says that no matter how violent the sport, his 4-year-old son will be allowed to take it up if he wants.

``It would have to be his choice,'' Suggs said Monday. ``Football isn't for everybody. If my son ... came to me and said, `Dad, I want to play football,' then I would let him play.''

The president's thoughts about the future of the NFL - and whether he'd let a son play football - were a main topic of conversation as Super Bowl week got under way. So much so that when San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone stepped away from his interview session, he asked someone, ``What's up with all this Obama (stuff)?''

Here's what's up: In an interview with The New Republic, the newly inaugurated president expressed what many other parents might be thinking following new studies about concussions and recent suicides by former NFL players.

``I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football,'' Obama said.

``I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,'' he added. ``In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.''

Ravens safety Ed Reed, for one, agreed with the sentiment.

``I am with Obama,'' Reed said. ``I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it ... I can't make decisions for him. All I can do is say, `Son, I played it so you don't have to.'''

Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection in his 11 NFL seasons, thinks there needs to be improvements within the league.

``We've got some leaks in it that need to be worked out,'' Reed said. ``Every medical training room should be upgraded; training rooms can be a lot better.''

And as he noted: ``When you've got the president talking about it, you got something.''

Reed isn't sure everyone is being trained properly or cared for adequately.

``I felt like I played the game as safe as possible,'' he said. ``I even tell the guys that they have to take care of their bodies, take care of themselves. If you take care of that, it will take care of you.''

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health announced recently that Junior Seau - the star linebacker who died of a self-inflicted gunshot last year - had a degenerative brain disease often linked to repeated blows to the head.

Seau is one of several dozen football players who were found to have chronic traumatic ecephalopathy, or CTE.

The NFL is facing lawsuits brought by thousands of former players who say the league withheld information on the harmful effects of concussions.

Players who were asked Monday about Obama's comments tended to side with Ravens center Matt Birk, who did not hesitate before saying: ``I have three sons, and once they get to a certain age, if they want to play football, I would let them.''

San Francisco's Boone doesn't see how there is a lot of room for the game itself to change.

``There's going to be injuries and there's going to be problems,'' Boone said, ``but we're working on trying to prevent them.''

His coach, Jim Harbaugh, responded to the president's remarks in a lighter vein. Harbaugh, who played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons, mentioned his own child.

``Well, I have a 4-month-old - almost, soon-to-be 5-month-old - son, Jack Harbaugh, and if President Obama feels that way, then (there will) be a little less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets older,'' San Francisco's coach said with a chuckle. ``That's the first thing that jumps into my mind, if other parents are thinking that way.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

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Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

If the NFL had an All-Academic team, Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel would be on it.

In February, Urschel began the Ph.D program in mathematics at MIT. How’s he doing so far? Here’s a hint. When it comes to grades, Urschel is only familiar with one letter in the alphabet.

“My first semester in school in nearly three years,” Urschel wroter on Twitter. “Four PhD classes at MIT. Four A’s. The streak continues!!!”

Entering his third season with the Ravens, Urschel has found a way to juggle his love for football with his love for mathematics. He posted an interesting article on The Players Tribune this week in which he described training with the football team at MIT this spring.

“I probably had about 50 or 60 pounds on the biggest guy on MIT’s O-line,” Urschel wrote. “But when we ran, they put me to shame. They could outsprint me.

“What I found is that the team at MIT is no joke. It is a football team – in some ways, more of a football team than any I’d ever seen. These guys love football. They are playing the game because they want to. No one is making them come to practice, no one is checking up on them. They know as well as anyone about head injuries; they know that football is dangerous; they know the feeling of exhaustion and pain. They still play. They don’t do it for money, and they don’t do it for status.

“We talk about dedication and passion in the pros, but the truth is, sometimes the game feels like a job. You start to think of the paycheck. You feel the grind. But training with the team at MIT, I started thinking about what had drawn me to football as a kid. It felt like a game again. I had thought I might have something to teach the team. I never imagined they’d have so much to teach me.”

That guy in the Dos Equis beer commercials might be the most interesting man in the world. But Urschel has built a strong resume as the most interesting player on the Ravens.

RELATED: NFL ANNOUNCES LOCATIONS FOR 2019, 2020 AND 2021 SUPER BOWLS

NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

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NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

The NFL has decided on the locations of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls. The vote took place at the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, while South Florida (Miami) will get the event in 2020 and Los Angeles will host in 2021. 

The cities chosen each included new or upgraded stadiums in their pitches to the league. 

Atlanta will be home to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opening in 2017. 

Miami's stadium (Sun Life Stadium from 2010-2016) is undergoing a $400 million renovation that will include an open-air canopy to provide shade for 92 percent of seats, according to Sports Illustrated. Construction should be complete before the 2017 season. 

And Los Angeles will boast a new 300-acre, campus-style stadium housing the Rams and potentially a second team. The $2.6 billion project will be the most expensive sports arena in the world, reports CNN, and should be ready before the 2019 NFL season. 

AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

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AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert will undergo ankle surgery, according to multiple reports.

Estimates varied on when Eifert would return, but he was not expected to be back on the field until at least mid-August.

Eifert suffered his injury at the Pro Bowl, which he left wearing a walking boot.

His ankle has not responded to treatment as well as Eifert hoped, and he could not join his teammates for OTA’s this week.

A first-round pick in 2013 (21st overall), Eifert led all NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown catches last season, and had 52 catches overall for 615 yards. Still only 25 years old, Eifert has emerged as a major weapon for the Bengals, and they have already picked up his fifth-year option.

The priority for the Bengals is to have Eifert ready for Week 1 when they visit the Jets. Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Kroft, and C. J. Uzomah will see plenty of reps at tight end until Eifert returns.

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