I personally gained a lot from playing football in high school. I was lucky enough to avoid injuries, and we had a really great trainer who taught us so much about training, including how to perform olympic lifts.
My brother is a bit younger than me and is new to weight training. He never played sports in high school (I'm not counting bowling). And even though he loves lifting, he is still developing that "base strength" and has to look out for injuries especially for his shoulders.
Broadly speaking, lots of young men need positive figures in their lives, and need to learn how to work with others. In football especially, you have to depend on your teammates no matter how talented you are individually. You have to lead sometimes and follow other times, and that is a good life lesson.
BUT...there are plenty of jackass high school coaches who ruin the entire experience for kids by being ignorant, over-competitive, delusional, and making kids play hurt. So there is another side to the argument.
I have friends who say they would never let their kids play football. If I had kids, I wouldn't let them play full-contact until high school, and I would make sure they understand the risks of injury.