A friend's kid is a senior at a preppy-ish boarding school. He never played organized football until last year when he tried out for the school team over the objections of his parents who are deeply concerned about concussions. He was a starter almost immediately, on both offense and defense. He played through his junior and senior years.
He applied to several small liberal arts colleges. He's also been very expensively tutored and coached to a good ACT score (98th percentile), but his grades were pretty lame, except during his two football seasons when he did pretty well--not great but very respectable grades. The academic requirements to maintain his status as a player and his coach being on his ass kept him on top of academics. Nonetheless, his overall GPA was poor because of the years and then the semesters he didn't play football.
He didn't bother to apply for scholarships, but two schools unexpectedly offered 4-year free rides... if he'd play football. Evidently, when he applied to these schools, football was listed as one of his activities and the info was forwarded to coaches who then looked up and watched his highlight videos. Until he started getting calls from college coaches, he never had a thought about playing college football.
His parents don't need the money. They don't need it at all, which isn't to say that they wouldn't prefer to have the money than not have the money. But the debate they're having in their household is this: should he play football and risk concussions so that he'll have a coach all over his ass about the academics? He really needs someone on his ass about academics. He's smart, but he's got an intense case of ADHD. With a lot of supervision he can do pretty well, but without supervision his history says he'll flunk out. But he also doesn't need any more neuro problems than he already has. He's a lineman and in college the opposing players only get bigger and hit harder, and he'll get bigger and hit harder.
I was asked to weigh in, and I punted: "You'll have to let him decide."