And to a mother whose son seeks out videos of vicious hits on YouTube: "We are not promoting the kinds of hits that were promoted even five years ago, 10 years ago. We're trying to get our partners not to promote those. . . . We have worked very hard to make them understand, 'We are trying to change our culture and you need to be a part of that. You need to make sure you're not glorifying the kinds of hits we're trying to eliminate from our game.' "
Goodell was well received. In the bleachers, Raquel Garfield, listened intently. She has two sons playing in the Fairfax league and another playing freshman ball at Centreville High School. One of her sons had suffered two concussions in elementary school — one on the playground, the other on a scooter — and her pediatrician discouraged him from playing football. Her instincts were buoyed by what she heard.
"Accidents are going to happen," she said. "I'd rather have them doing this than sitting at home on the couch. You can waste your brain sitting on the couch and you can do damage to your character."