THE BLOG
01/31/2013 02:59 pm ET Updated Apr 02, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII: The NFL Is Having a Rough Week Leading Up to the Super Bowl

If you think you're having a bad week, think again.

It could be worse, you could be the National Football League.

Usually the week leading up the Super Bowl is one that celebrates the positives of the Nation's most successful professional sports league.

Media members from all over the world converge on the host city, as do the two teams participating in the game.

They're joined by league executives, players, celebrities, and the fans lucky enough, or wealthy enough to land a ticket to the big game.

This year the mood surrounding the sports' premier event is a little less celebratory. The NFL is absorbing a public relations nightmare as the Super Bowl approaches.

This past Saturday The New Republic published an interview with President Barack Obama. In the interview Obama admits to feeling uneasy about the amounts of risk involved in playing football.

"I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much."

Less than three months ago President Obama won a decisive reelection. Now with his approval ratings at over 50 percent, he is expounding on his own hesitance at letting a hypothetical son play a sport that has become a key part of American culture.

Of all the key parts to maintaining the long-term health of a professional sports league, youth participation is among the most critical.

If parents are increasingly hesitant to allow their children to play youth football then the sports' talent pool will eventually suffer. That will lead to a lower level of performance at the college and pro levels and that will lead to a decline in the sports' success.

If Obama is voicing concerns, then he's probably not alone. It is likely that there are parents all across the nation who are less enthusiastic about their sons or daughters playing youth football.

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed voiced agreement with President Obama's statement. Reed is one of the best defensive players of his generation. He's destined for a plaque in the Football Hall of Fame. Yet in spite of all the riches and accolades playing NFL football has brought to him he wasn't shy about his concerns with the danger of playing the sport.

Monday Reed told The Baltimore Sun.

"I am with Obama," Reed said. "I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it, I can't make decisions for him. All I can do is say, 'Son, I played it, so you don't have to.

Reed's teammate, Bernard Pollard also knows the dangers of the sport, but Pollard feels that changing the sports' rules will lead to its' ultimate demise.

Pollard told CBS Sports that he sees dark days in the future for the NFL.

"Thirty years from now," he said, "I don't think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It's just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going -- where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they're throwing flags and everything else -- there's going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it."

The statements by President Obama, Reed, and Pollard all foresee trouble for the NFL in the future.

On Tuesday the league was confronted with a much more immediate problem.

Tuesday afternoon Sports Illustrated released an expose that links Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis to banned substances as recently as this past season.

Lewis is the highest profile player taking part in Super Bowl XLVII. He is known as one of the greatest linebackers to ever play in the NFL. He is also the spiritual and emotional leader of the Baltimore Ravens. Win or lose the Super Bowl will be Lewis' final game as a professional football player.

Tuesday afternoon, at a standing room only media day press conference, Lewis totally denied ever using banned substances.

That's not going to put an end to speculation about Lewis' links to banned substance use.

Sports Illustrated claims to have a recorded telephone conversation in which Lewis asks Mitch Ross one of the owners of S.W.A.T. which is an acronym for Sports With Alternatives to Steroids, to send him banned substances.

The Super Bowl is only a little more than three days away, but the for the NFL it can't happen soon enough.