President Donald Trump called football a "dangerous sport" in an interview with CBS that aired on Super Bowl Sunday, and said he would not guide his 12-year-old son Barron toward the game.
"It's a very good question. If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn't," Trump said on Face the Nation when CBS's Margaret Brennan asked if Trump would let his son play.
"I just don't like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football — I mean, it's a dangerous sport," Trump said, adding that Barron played soccer.
"I thought the equipment would get better, and it has. The helmets have gotten far better but it hasn't solved the problem," Trump said. "I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son— Well, I've heard NFL players saying they wouldn't let their sons play football. So, it's not totally unique, but I would have a hard time with it."
In 2015, the NFL reported that concussions in the league had declined by 35% over a three-year period.
Trump, who has mocked the NFL for becoming too soft, has previously said that he missed the high-impact tackles that the NFL and college leagues have taken steps to prevent, and that their absence was "hurting the game."
"They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game," he said at a September 2017 rally in Alabama.
Asked about the kneeling protests that he has criticized in the past, Trump brought up the criminal justice legislation that he signed in December, and said that "a lot of people in the NFL" have been calling him to thank him for it.
"They have been calling and thanking, you know, that people have been trying to get that taken care of and it's now signed into law and affects tremendous numbers of people, and very good people," the president said.
"I took care of that," he added.
The controversy surrounding protests about police violence began when Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, remained seated during the national anthem before a preseason game in 2016. The protest caught on nationwide, with players on multiple teams, who sat or knelt at subsequent games.
At the 2017 Alabama rally, the president said that NFL team owners should fire players who decide to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.
On Sunday, Trump did not condone the protest acts. "I think that when you want to protest, I think that's great. But I don't think you do it at the sake of our flag, at the sake of our national anthem," he said.