ODESSA, TX (KWES) - From pee wee to high school to even the NFL, safety has become a top priority.
The UIL is partnering with the O'Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center to study whether rules or equipment need to be changed at the high school level in the state of Texas, which has more than 800,000 athletes.
Former NFL receiver and Super Bowl winner Bethel Johnson, who's in the Permian Basin for an event, said he's glad it's happening. He questions if playing the sport is even worth it.
"I think for these kids nowadays, everyone is aware,' said Johnson. "So now parents can make an informed decision of whether or not to let their kids play the sport or anything like that. I have a son myself, people ask me all the time if I'm going to let my son play football. Knowing the stuff I know, probably won't."
His friend, former Permian and Dallas Cowboys standout Roy Williams echoed those beliefs, saying there's a need to be informed at every level now.
He also said if rule changes do come from the research, they need to be for everyone's safety, not just specific individuals.
"If they change it, they need to change it for everybody," said Williams. "Let's not just specify for the quarterback, he's OK, he has these certain rules but receivers go out there and get tattooed in the ACL and the knees and all that and that's OK. I don't think that's OK, you're going to make the rules, make it the same rules for everybody."
As for the fans who are hoping they don't see the game change, Johnson said he understands the concern, but to remember the players have a life off the field.
"I mean I enjoy the big hits too," said Johnson. "That's the era I played in, that's the era that I come from. So I enjoy the big hits but I think with the safety. You got to consider that these guys have family, they have people to feed. But it is football at the end of the day. I miss the brutality too."