NEW ORLEANS — Unlike several players at the Super Bowl, Ravens S Ed Reed agrees with President Barack Obama that football needs to be made safer. Reed wants to be part of the solution, too.
The 11-year veteran and one of the league's most respected players said Monday at the Super Bowl that Obama's comments questioning the safety of the game are on target. Reed added he'd like "to help work it out."
"I am with Obama," Reed said after learning of the president's concerns about parents allowing their sons to play football. "I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it … I can't make decisions for him. All I can do is say, 'Son, I played it so you don't have to.' "
Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowl pick, believes football's medical system is broken.
"We've got some leaks in it that need to be worked out," he said. "Every medical training room should be upgraded; training rooms can be a lot better.
"When you've got the president talking about it, you got something."
In a recent interview with the New Republic, Obama said if he had a son, he would have to "think long and hard" before letting him step on the gridiron.
Reed's opinion was far from the majority among Ravens and 49ers asked about Obama's comments as they prepared for Sunday's Super Bowl. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco said no one forced football on him or anyone else in the NFL.
"This is something we chose to do," Flacco said. "When you talk about little kids doing it, they are not having the collisions we have in the NFL."
All-Pro LB Aldon Smith was among several San Francisco players who doesn't see anything wrong with their kids playing football.
"It's not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis," Smith said. "It's a physical game. Everybody plays hard. …We all signed up for it."
G Alex Boone was adamant that football has to be "physical," while adding he believed the league and the players association were attempting to make the game safer.
"If he wants to play, he can play. He can do whatever he wants," Boone said of having a son pursue football. "With little kids, you don't really have to worry about them that much. But as you get older, you have to understand the game better."
MARCHING IN MORE OFTEN: A 20-story-high mural of the Lombardi Trophy, affixed to the glass exterior of a bustling hotel that was once a shattered symbol of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, rises like a beacon above the expansive white roof of the Superdome.
The Super Bowl is in the Big Easy, finally, after 11 years, giving New Orleans a spotlight of global proportion to showcase how far it has come since Katrina left the city on its knees and under water in August 2005.
"The story is much, much bigger than the Super Bowl," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Monday. "This is a story about the resurrection and redemption of a great American city.
"The Super Bowl gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we've been and where we're going."
From 1970 to 2002, New Orleans was a regular host of the Super Bowl and hopes to become one again. This Sunday, the Crescent City will host the NFL's marquee game for the 10th time, tying Miami for the most of any city. If all goes well, it hopes to get back in the rotation more frequently.
Jay Cicero, president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, said his group will ask the league for permission to bid for the 2018 Super Bowl, coinciding with the city's celebration of its 300th anniversary.