The commissioner invited 9-year-old Sam Gordon, the Salt Lake City youth football star whose YouTube video of her running over and around the boys resulted in her smiling visage on a Wheaties box, and her family to the big game this weekend. Sam had 223 carries and 65 tackles last year — in a sport Goodell’s own senior adviser on his head, neck and spine committee says she shouldn’t be playing until she’s at least 14 years old.
Dr. Robert Cantu has done the research. He’s concluded the “bobble-head effect” associated with big heads on the weak necks of children are not conducive to hits the way more-developed brains are.
But hey, Sam: You go, girl.
Some contradictions you can’t make up. Drew Brees lent his voice to “Rush Zone: Season of the Guardians,” an animated series that ran on the kids cartoon channel Nicktoons last fall aimed specifically at linking young boys with the NFL.
It’s about a boy named Ish and his friends who live in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ish and friends have been “tapped as guardians to protect the sport from an evil force trying to capture the essence of the NFL,” according to a marketing department spokesman quoted in the Los Angeles Times last fall.
Brees and the other voiceovers do battle with various villains out to destroy football — the same Brees whom I saw in an interview last year say he would not let his young boys play football until they were over 13.
“He does concussion awareness campaigns, all directed toward children he personally believes should not be playing tackle football because of repetitive head trauma and his awareness of the science,” said Sean Pamphilon, the documentarian who filmed Williams targeting the head and specific body parts of 49ers players last postseason. “So how can an NFLPA member who claims to champion issues of health and safety help the NFL actively target and sell consequences to our children he wouldn’t accept for his own?
“History will reflect that Drew Brees was Joe Camel in shoulder pads.”
A week before the big game, on the quandary goes — and certainly not in the White House and the Ravens’ locker room alone.
In point of fact, as the 49ers and Ravens brace for media day and prepare for their expected physical meeting Sunday, sometimes it feels like the Lombardi Trophy is less up for grabs this week than the very soul of the game.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.