NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President Barack Obama says football players know the health risks they’re “buying into.”

But if Obama had a son, no way would he be allowed to pull on the pads.

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“I would not let my son play pro football,” Obama said in an interview with The New Yorker. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”

The president compared football players to smokers, saying both groups know the potential hazards behind their choices. Thousands of former NFL players — including Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett — have filed a lawsuit against the league, accusing it of failing to warn them about the effects of head trauma and concussions.

“These guys, they know what they’re doing,” Obama said. “They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

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Obama sparked a national debate prior to last year’s Super Bowl when he said he would “have to think long and hard” before letting a son play football.

“It’s one less kid to compete against,” said Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, whose team went on to win the Lombardi Trophy. “Football’s a great game. And everybody who’s played the game know what a great game it is and what it provides young people and what it provided someone like me — an opportunity to grow as a person. It’s challenging. It’s tough, hard. There’s no game like football. It’s the type of sport that brings out the best in you. It kind of shows you who you are.”

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