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Agony Of Victory

Original post made by green, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland, on Jan 22, 2007

An article in todays Chronicle deals with life after football for the SF 49rs Super Bowl winning roster. Almost all of the players willing to be interviewed suffer from very serious health problems caused by years of playing football. Many live with extreme and crippling pain, many can easily qualify as cripples. They suffer from destroyed joints, shattered backs and spines, damaged brains because of repeated hits to the head and concussion, etc. Some walk like hunchbacks, some can't stand on a hard surface without horrible pain, some can't get out of bed in the morning without help- most have artificial joints, and we are talking about men who are between the ages of 47 and 59. The great Joe Montana has a shattered knee that will need to be replaced soon, he recently underwent spinal fusion surgery, his left eye is damaged because of concussions, his shoulders are seriously damaged, etc. Players who hadn't signed the huge contracts or didn't play long enough to become wealthy are often left penniless because of their huge medical bills. Even players who did earn millions of dollars find out they require very expensive and often permanent medical care because of their football related injuries and run out of money. Since football became such an integral part of our culture, players on the high school, college and professional level are treated by millions as celebrities, role models and simetime as demi-Gods, I was wondering how the readers felt about his situation.

Comments (6)

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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Play baseball (or violin). I like to watch baseball, over football, anyway. And I would like to listen to violin over football sportcasters, any day of the week.

But I'm betting on the Colts.

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Posted by Anglophile
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Coming from where football is played with a round ball, we often hear from our sportscasters that "American" football is not a sport, more a free for all and even though our rugby players play a similar sport wearing none of the protective gear and do occasionally get similar types of life long major injuries, they also say that they wouldn't play the game, even for the money!

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Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2007 at 3:30 pm

American football players are now so big, fast and strong and hit with such ferocity, that virtually every player is guaranteed to become a cripple at some point, either during his playing career or at some point after his playing days are over. An autopsy on the brain of a former NFL player who committed suicide at the age of 42, revealed a brain resembling the brain of an 85 year old man, a result of multiple concussions which apparently all football players(maybe not kickers) suffer.

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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Don't soccer player also have a lot of concussive head injuries (not to multiple joint injuries and broken bones)?

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Posted by Theresa
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 23, 2007 at 9:23 am

My father played pro football in the early 50s. He is now in his late 70s.

He has had all his teeth capped (helmets didn't include faceguards back then, and all his teeth were chipped and then drilled down), both knees 'scoped, his left hip replaced twice, and now his left knee replaced.

That said, he looks great for a guy his age. If you met him, you'd never guess he was pushing 80. But he is still dealing with a lot of structural damage from his years of playing college and pro football.

The game has changed a great deal since the 50s, and many recent players are paying the price of taking various "supplements" to boost what Mother Nature gave them.

I think lifetime health care is a perk that young football players should insist upon when they go pro.

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Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 23, 2007 at 11:58 pm

The article certainly raises some concerns. On one hand, I hope to steer my sons away from playing football because of the health risks. On the other hand, I enjoy the game as a spectator of high school, college, and pro football, so I suppose I'm encouraging the problem. But even as a spectator, I look away and wince at the bone-jarring hits sometimes. Which brings me to the comment above about rugby. I don't know for sure, but I would hypothesize that the lack of pads and helmets actually makes the sport safer - there's a limit to the damage you'll inflict on someone else when it involves using your own unprotected limbs and skull, and so perhaps you go for the wrap-em-up tackle rather than the shoulder and helmet body blow. I know rugby has many injuries, but perhaps fewer severe ones... anyone know more?

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