Illinois House to debate, vote on organized tackle football ban for kids under 12

Illinois legislators may ban tackle football under age 12 (4:23)

Tregg Duerson, son of the former Bears player for whom a bill aimed at limiting tackle football for young players is named, spoke at a hearing with other noted head injury activists. (4:23)

Illinois took a significant step toward becoming the first state to ban organized tackle football at the youth level.

HB 4341, also called the Dave Duerson Act, would prohibit any child under 12 from participating in organized tackle football. The measure passed out of the Illinois House mental health committee on an 11-9 vote Thursday and now heads to the House for a full debate and vote.

The bill needed 11 votes for passage.

Illinois is one of four states -- New York, California and Maryland are the others -- to introduce legislation regulating tackle football.

Duerson's family has put its support behind the bill since the two-time Super Bowl winner killed himself in 2011. He left a note asking that his brain be studied by researchers.

"This is a first down," said Duerson's son, Tregg, who was holding back tears as the votes were counted. "It's going to be a long process."

Proponents of the bill -- including Boston University CTE researcher Dr. Robert Stern, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland and Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO Chris Nowinski -- argue that fewer years of tackle football will lower the risk of CTE later in life.

Tregg Duerson spoke to lawmakers about his father's yearslong struggle with what was ultimately diagnosed as CTE.

"He went from a Harvard-educated, successful businessman to a shadow of himself," Tregg Duerson said. "He struggled with bankruptcy, urges of physical assault and depression. In the note he left for us, he mentioned issues with blurred vision, memory loss and an ability to control his own temperament. This bill honors my family's hope and my father's legacy to protect future athletes and the future of football."