Osi Umenyiora wants his son to avoid football

The Giants' Osi Umenyiora records one of his The Giants' Osi Umenyiora records one of his seven sacks and six forced fumbles during the month of October. (Oct. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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Count Osi Umenyiora among the current and recently retired NFL players who are hoping their sons stay away from football.

In a series of posts on Twitter Tuesday, the Giants' defensive end wrote that "Kurt Warner is right to think how he is thinking about his kids and football," a reference to the former quarterback's statements last week that he hopes his sons will not play the sport.

Umenyiora went further, saying that the game likely will take away his ability to walk in the coming years.

"It's an awesome game and has done a lot for me, but I know when I'm 45 there is a strong chance I'll be in a wheelchair . . . If I can avoid that for my son, I will. But if he wants to play, I won't stop him."

Umenyiora, 30, said he has never suffered a concussion in the NFL. One of the reasons he pointed to was his technique of circling the quarterbacks and going for a strip-sack. In 2010 he tied an NFL record with 10 forced fumbles.

"They laugh at me," he wrote of his teammates who chide him for not wanting to get his uniform dirty, "but I'm trying to avoid that dementia, you know."

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In an appearance via telephone on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" yesterday afternoon, Umenyiora admitted he may have been exaggerating his wheelchair claim. "But there's no question that it's a dangerous sport," he said in a fiery debate about concussions and the future of youth football. He compared playing football to smoking or drinking alcohol, which people do even though they know about the health risks.

Umenyiora has suffered various hip and knee injuries throughout his career. He's also angling for a trade or an extension from the Giants with one year left on his contract. In the past, he has brought up how much he has given to the franchise over the years in terms of his physical well-being. Some may see Umenyiora's most recent comments as posturing for the contract.

Either way, Umenyiora joins a growing contingent of fathers with NFL backgrounds who are steering their sons away from the sport. Besides Warner last week, former Giant Harry Carson told Newsday he has prohibited his 2-year-old grandson from ever playing football. Carson suffers from post-concussion syndrome and has said that if he knew at the beginning of his career how he would feel now, he would not have played professional football.

On ESPN, Umenyiora said, "Obviously, you can see that the NFL now has owners who care and a commissioner who cares and you see them trying to take steps to try to eradicate or lessen the impact of some of these head traumas and CTEs and the dementia that a lot of us are suffering from later on in our life.

"You see them trying to do things to limit that. But at the end of the day, there's really not much you're going to be able to do to eradicate that completely unless you just eradicate the game of football. And that's not going to happen."

Not everyone is coming out against the sport. After Warner's comments last week, former Giant Amani Toomer was critical of Warner for "trashing" the sport that made him rich and famous.

"Love Toomer, that's my guy," Umenyiora posted, "but he is dead wrong for attacking Kurt like that."

Giants' fourth-round pick signs.Adrien Robinson, the fourth-round pick of the Giants who was referred to as "the JPP of tight ends" by Jerry Reese, has agreed to the terms of his rookie contract. The four-year deal is worth $2.48 million and includes a signing bonus of about $385,000. Robinson was underused in Cincinnati's spread offense, but the Giants believe he can become a dynamic player. Robinson, the other six draft picks plus 10 undrafted free agents and a few dozen tryouts will participate in the Giants' rookie minicamp this weekend.

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