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Arians hopes to convince mothers that football is safe to play


A generation ago, Bobby Boucher’s mother dubbed “foosball” the devil. Now, plenty of other moms believe the same thing.

And Cardinals coach Bruce Arians plans to do something about it.

Little more than two weeks after Arians dubbed parents who won’t let their kids play football as “fools,” Arians made a more direct plea toward undoing the damage that has been done to the hearts and minds of mothers based on reasonable concerns about the potential impact of head trauma.

We feel like this is our sport,” Arians said Friday at the Arizona Cardinals High School Football Coaches Clinic, via FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix. “It’s being attacked, and we got to stop it at the grass roots. It’s the best game that’s ever been f--king invented, and we got to make sure that moms get the message; because that’s who’s afraid of our game right now. It’s not dads, it’s moms.”

Moms are afraid of the game for good reason, even though thousands of moms have been afraid of football for decades. More and more knowledge and information regarding head injuries has created a level of fear that at times dances on the line that separates rational from irrational.

That said, more than a handful of high school players die every year due to injuries suffered while playing or practicing, which makes the worst fears realized by those parents anything but irrational. Still, as FOX’s Jay Glazer recently said on the Bill Simmons podcast, a mother recently brought her son to Glazer’s gym, explaining that she wanted her boy to take up MMA because she’s looking for a sport safer than football.

The bigger challenge continues to be making the game of football safer than it is. While some will focus only on the arguably cartoonish remarks from Arians about the “attack” on the sport, Arians also said things that speak directly to improvements football is trying to make.

“Our job is to make sure the game is safe, at all levels, the head really has no business being in the game,” Arians said. “There’s a lot of different teachers, but when I was taught how to tackle, and block, it was on a two-man sled, and you did it with your shoulder pads. That’s still the best way to do it. There’s really isn’t any place for your face in the game. I would beg all of you to continue to learn more about what they’re now calling rugby style tackling.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been one of the leaders in this regard, and the sooner the method trickles down to lower levels of the sport, the better. Along with other ways to make the game safer by minimizing the involvement of the head.

“There are a lot of good innovations as far as sleds, and drill work. I just spoke at the University of Georgia clinic two weeks ago, and saw a moving dummy that you could tackle. I thought it was one of the best inventions I’ve ever seen.”

Other inventions and innovations are needed. Arians at one point bemoaned the fact that plenty of offensive linemen get to the NFL without ever playing in a three-point stance. Maybe, as Hall of Fame coach John Madden has previously argued, the alignment that encourages linemen to lead with their heads needs to disappear from the NFL, too.

UPDATE 3:28 p.m. ET: Earlier this hour, Arians posted the following message on Twitter. “Just to be clear about kids playing football, my point is that moms are often the ones making those decisions in a family. We have to make sure that they’re getting the message about everything being done to make the game as safe as possible. They’re the ones we have to influence. It’s a great game and it’s even greater when it’s played, coached and taught the right way. Everybody involved with the sport has a responsibility to make that happen.”