Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians defended football at a coaching clinic on Friday and blamed mothers for an ongoing attack on the game.
"We feel like this is our sport. It's being attacked, and we got to stop it at the grass roots," Arians said at the "Arizona Cardinals High School Football Coaches Clinic" on Friday, according to Ed Cole of NBC Sports 1060 in Phoenix. "It's the best game that's ever been f------ 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."
The message isn't much different than one he delivered at league meetings in March when Arians told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that parents are "fools" if they won't let their kids play football. But on Friday, he narrowed the scope from "parents" to "moms."
Many of the NFL's most prominent names, including Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Adrian Peterson, Kurt Warner and Brett Favre, have all said that they wouldn't let their sons play football. LeBron James echoed the sentiment and even President Barack Obama told The New Yorker that if he had a son, he wouldn't let him play pro football.
Arians, 63, earned a label as one of the NFL's more progressive coaches when he hired Jen Welter as a training camp intern last summer, making her the first female coach in league history.
On Friday, he told high school coaches that teaching better tackling is the way to decrease concussions and battle the stigma associated with football:
"Our job is to make sure the game is safe, at all levels," Arians said. "The head really has no business being in the game. 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. I thought it was f------ football myself."
An MSNBC poll in January 2015 found that 40 percent of women said they would encourage their children to play a sport other than football compared to 32 percent of men.
Update: On Sunday, Arians attempted to clarify his comments:
Just to clear up any misinterpretations, this is my view about football and moms pic.twitter.com/67zGKRyXiK— Bruce Arians (@BruceArians) April 10, 2016
* * *
SB Nation Presents: Chris Borland's retirement and what it means for the NFL
Be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel for highlight videos, features, analysis and more