The father of a 16-year-old Stuart High School football player said yesterday that his son has quit the team, at his request, because the father feared for the boy's safety in the wake of the life-threatening brain injury suffered by teammate John Avila in a game on Sept. 11.
The father, Manny Fierro Sr., has acted as a liaison between the Avila family and representatives from the school, hospital and news media since Avila was hurt in a game against Edison High School.
His son, Manny Fierro Jr., a 5-foot-7 1/2, 170-pound junior starting safety this season, left the team last week after several weeks of discussions with his father.
"I began to question the propriety of my son playing on the team," Fierro said. "He did not want to get off the team. But as time went on and he saw John in the hospital and talked to the family, he changed his mind.
"I had never questioned football before, but, after this happened, I realized that the risks were there. Football is an impact sport and injuries are a part of the game. I felt there is no sense in risking injury to my son, and to anybody that he might injure. I felt he could use his time better to work on his grades."
Fierro Sr. said another son, 13-year-old Tino, is still playing on a youth league tackle football team. "I won one battle," the father said. "Now I have another battle. I would like my other son to give up football, too."
Fierro Sr. also appeared on a Today Show segment yesterday focusing on the safety of football.
Avila remained in critical condition and in a coma in the intensive care unit of Alexandria Hospital yesterday.