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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Joe Namath understands parents' reluctance to let kids play football due to safety issues

NEW YORK, N.Y. - fbo-Joe Namath understands why more parents these days are reluctant to let their children play football.

"I can't blame them. I can't blame them," Namath told The Associated on Saturday from the red carpet of the 3rd Annual NFL Honors in New York, where he introduced the Class of 2014 for the National Football Hall of Fame.

"If it was my boy or my daughter, I wouldn't like to see them run into people," the 70-year old quarterback said.

Namath has the distinction of being the only player to lead the New York Jets to a Super Bowl and was known for his swagger on and off the field. Nicknamed "Broadway Joe," he made a bold prediction going into Super Bowl III that his Jets would beat the heavily favoured Baltimore Colts. The 18-point underdogs won 16-7 in one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

But Namath saw his share of injuries, including concussions and four knee surgeries. But he says he feels lucky.

"I am so sound. I pray — I hope to God that people that weren't dealt a full deck from the get go feel better getting healthy. What I have is nothing, man, nothing that is going to put me away or send me on," Namath said.

He added: "The NFL is doing everything they can to make it a safer game... however, Americans and people around the world love American football because it is a game of contact."

While Namath understands why parents would discourage their children from playing football, he says you still have to give them a chance if they really want it. Namath has two daughters.

"The good news about it today, the last few years is we're teaching better techniques," Namath said. "We are making the game safer for everyone who wants to play."

___

Online:

http://www.nfl.com/honours

Twitter:

Follow AP Entertainment writer John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci

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