It would be impossible to make a fair comparison between football and mixed martial arts at this point in time because most high schools, colleges and universities don't offer the latter sport as part of their athletic programs.
We're just now starting to learn about the health effects that playing football took on the athletes who participated in the sport in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
As for MMA, which has only been around since 1993, similar health problems due to concussions and head trauma are starting to appear in some of the elder statesman of the sport who are entering their late-40s.
Former UFC standout Gary Goodridge said in a recent interviewthat "my brain doesn't remember much these days."
Dana White's Take
UFC President Dana White, on the other hand, says the league is right on top of limiting the risk of head trauma. "This sport has been around almost 20 years," White said in a presser for Jon Jones vs Machida. "There's never been a death or serious injury in the UFC. The reason is when you have two athletes, you go in and have them medically cleared the way you're supposed to, you don't cut any corners and you go overboard on it."
White seems to have a point, as the UFC has the proper medical staff on duty and a fighter can simply "tapout" before taking extensive damage.
The same can't be said about football, as NFL athletes are battered until the final whistle. As a New York Jets fan, it especially pains me to see Shonn Greene's downhill running style. He runs right into contact, hoping to use his bulky frame to move the line and gain yards. It works at times, but it's not a good approach to avoiding punishing tackles.
The NFL also recently had two notable suicides - Junior Seau and Dave Duerson - that were related to head trauma from their football playing days. The UFC, on the other hand, hasn't had any suicides even though many of its former athletes are close to the same age as Seau.
The next few years are a critical time for the UFC, as many of its top-notch former stars creep up in age. Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Ken Shamrock and many other notable fighters who took extensive damage in the cage will be aging before our eyes, and the future of the sport many depend on their overall well-being.
New York Jets Linebacker Bart Scott Doesn't Want His Kid To Play Football
As for the New York Jets, standout linebacker Bart Scott was recently quoted saying that he doesn't want his kids to play football because of the injury risks associated with the sport.
"He can play baseball," Scott said according to a report by theAtlantic.com. "I really don't want him boxing, either, even though he wants to box. I won't let him box. It's not worth it. The most important thing for me is him being around and me being able to spend a long time with him and I'm sure, at the end of the day, all the things I'm able to buy him from playing football, he'd much rather have me."
Is MMA safer than pro football? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Jets fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.