Mathis's son R.J. is two years old. The cornerback said he wouldn't stop R.J. from playing football, but also said if it were up to him he wouldn't let R.J. play because of the physical dangers involved.
"I don't want him to," Mathis said. "He doesn't have to play any sport, as far as I'm concerned, but if he does get into it, football will be the last thing I introduce him to."
"I know how taxing it is on your body," Mathis said. "Just being in the league a long time, I know how rough it could be. But if he loves it, he loves it, and I'm not going to pull it away from him. That's not going to be the case, but I know that it's taxing on your body, and there's plenty other ways that you can make a living other than football."
The dangers of football have seen increased criticism and oversight in recent years, particularly in relation to head injuries and their long-term effects on players. The NFL has faced multiple lawsuits alleging misconduct or negligence in regards to head trauma experienced by players.
The 12-year veteran tore his ACL in 2011 and missed seven games because of the injury. Mathis also missed time over his career due to groin, knee and finger injuries.
Mathis, 34, has 13 tackles for Detroit this season. His interception against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, which he returned for a touchdown in the Lions' 17-14 loss, was his first since before his ACL injury and the fourth interception return for a touchdown in his career.
The 3-2 Lions travel to play the 2-3 Vikings this Sunday.
- Ben Estes