In a moment that he and the league probably wish they could get back, this year’s Super Bowl halftime headliner Justin Timberlake told the world at an NFL news conference promoting the Super Bowl on Thursday that he will “never” let his son play football.
It’s been 14 years since the infamous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction,” but Timberlake is back to entertain the nation at halftime once again. As part of the promotion of his big performance, the 37-year-old former ‘NSYNC member spoke with reporters on Thursday.
When the singer jokingly offered to play wide receiver if the New England Patriots should need his help, a reporter asked him if his 2-year-old son Silas wanted to “run some routes and get in the NFL.”
Instead of running with the joke, Timberlake reflexively dumped on football.
“Uh, he will never play football. No, no,” said Timberlake, ABC reports.
Realizing that the timing of his comment wasn’t the greatest, the performer tried to back-pedal.
“I mean, yeah, it’s kind of like that thing where my main objective is that he become a great person,” said Timberlake. “And if he wants to get into the arts or sports, then yeah, I would fully support that. I think I can hopefully offer him some advice on what to do and what not to do, so yeah, but right now we’re working on our manners. That’s a big deal in our house right now. It’s like, one thing at a time.”
Though he tried to undo some of the damage, his knee-jerk rejection of football brought up the national conversation that the NFL would rather not highlight leading up to its biggest event: the debate about concussions and, particularly, allowing young people to play football.
The concussion debate has ratcheted up in recent months. ABC notes that a group of former NFL players recently joined forces with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to “support a parent initiative that advocates for children to avoid football until the age of 14.” The trend of fewer kids playing football has spurred some real fears in the professional football world that America’s favorite sport might soon be on the decline.
Here’s an interview Timberlake gave back in October discussing both his first and second shot at performing at the Super Bowl: