Cutler Kid Should Listen To Mom, Play Baseball

By Mark Konkol on January 29, 2013 10:46am | Updated on January 29, 2013 2:32pm

I agree with Kristin Cavallari.

Now that’s something that hasn’t happened since the MTV reality show maven dumped Justin Bobby on "The Hills."

But when the soon-to-be Mrs. Jay Cutler told DNAinfo.com’s Lizzie Schiffman that she plans to steer her son, Cam, away from playing football I had to say "amen."

In football, it’s inevitable you’re going to get hurt, because on every play someone is trying to hurt you.

I should know. I played in high school — well enough to play a few years in college. And at age 39, my shoulder still hurts.

The Pee Wee football debate, of course, centers on the violent nature of the game and the likelihood a kid — in this case Cavallari and Cutler’s kid — will suffer concussions.

There’s no denying that full-contact football glorifies collisions and the fearless players who use their bodies to dominate opponents. And a lot of kids get hurt.

Consider the stats: Every day during football season, 2,000 youth players are treated for football-related injuries. And between 1990 and 2007, more than 8,600 youth football players suffered concussions each year, according to the Center of Injury Research and Policy.

Still, there are parents — including Bears quarterback Jay Cutler — who think too many people have gotten “caught up into the concussion mania and awareness.”

“Would I let him play football? Absolutely,” Cutler told ESPN last year.

Spoken like a guy who has had one too many concussions.

That’s why I’m siding with Cavallari on this one.

"I will try to steer Cam in a different direction, maybe a sport that isn't so aggressive," Cavallari said. “Maybe baseball — something where he doesn't have to get hit."

I hope the Cutler kid listens to his mother.

Heck, I wish I listened to my mother.

She told me to stick with baseball.

I might not have made it to the big leagues, but I was a slugger with a pretty good fastball. I would have had a high school state championship ring. And I probably wouldn’t be so fat

When you play college football, even at a place like Culver-Stockton College where I started at left guard for two years, coaches push you to be bigger, faster and stronger.

“Die young. Die strong. Dianabol.” That was a pro-steroid refrain I heard more than a few times during my playing days in the ‘90s. I never juiced, and I’m not sure if anyone else did, but there definitely was pressure to become more of a “beast.”

Because I was a starter, I turned down a chance to play baseball in college to focus on training for football. I gained weight — about 70 pounds between my freshman and sophomore seasons — by power-lifting and an old-fashioned see-food diet. That’s the diet that calls for you to eat every time you see food.

At the end of my second losing season, I hurt my shoulder. A doctor said it was a torn rotator cuff and I’d need surgery to continue to play football. But going under the knife wouldn’t be necessary if I stuck to writing. Our team had won four games in two years. It was time for me to move on.

It was a fun game, but it was a dangerous game.

And like a lot of former football players, I still feel the lingering effects of old injuries. Luckily, I didn’t suffer any concussions — but a few guys I played with did. One particular offensive lineman would get his bell rung so often that his postgame "dizzy spells" became comic relief.

Baseball is way safer — and if you're one of those guys with real talent — potentially more lucrative.

Between 1994 and 2006, youth baseball-related injuries that required a trip to the emergency room decreased 25 percent, according to a 2009 study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy.

The average Major League Baseball player's career is two years longer than an NFL player's. And on average, big league annual paychecks are about $750,000 fatter.

It might seem silly to consider the future sports prospects of Cam Cutler, a 5-month-old boy who probably can’t roll over yet.

All I know is that if your mom tells you that playing football is a bad idea, she's probably right.

 Mark Konkol (c.) didn't listen to his mom. He quit baseball and played football at Thornwood High School.
Mark Konkol (c.) didn't listen to his mom. He quit baseball and played football at Thornwood High School.
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DNAinfo/ Mark Konkol

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