The Pro Football Concussion Report

A Fan's Look at Head Injuries and the Concussion Crisis in Football

Asking Nicely

Packer Dave Robinson
Hall of Fame inductee Dave Robinson, 1970 (AP)


The lawyers have spoken. The media has spoken. The fans have spoken. The owners have spoken (well, at least one has). Now the players are speaking. Apparently, seventeen Pro Football Hall of Famers and one player about to be enshrined this weekend have written a letter to Roger Goodell begging for help. Years of hitting, years of getting their bell rung, years of smelling salts and getting right back to the huddle have taken their toll on some of the greatest players we’ve ever seen.

The letter states that “many (players) cannot even remember taking part in some of the NFL’s greatest moments” while denying retired players appropriate health benefits that would allow them to seek treatment for memory loss, dementia, alzheimers and other neurological disorders common to ex-football players. To try and receive any of the benefit plans that the league offers, some players claim they are forced to face multiple league friendly doctors and arbitration panels and only a small percentage of players are ever approved to receive health benefits. According to his widow, the NFL medical and retirement panels refused to help Johnny Unitas cover any medical expenses for his famed right-arm, although after retirement it was so debilitated that he couldn’t button his own shirt, sign his name or even lift up a can of soda. One of the greatest right-handed quarterbacks in the history of football, spent the rest of his life after football as a southpaw.


Johnny Unitas with Herman Munster, 1965  (AP)

Johnny Unitas with Herman Munster, 1965 (AP)


A study published last year in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology found that retired football players were 3 to 4 more times likely to die from a neurological disorder than the general population.

Ahh, the heck with the lawyers, the doctors, the owners, the judges, the scientists.  It’s fun to just take a look at the only reason anybody’s ever paid attention to the game . . . some of the players who are asking the Commisioner to help:


Broncos Floyd Little

Floyd Little, 1972 (AP)


Dalls Cowboys Randy White

Randy White, 1975 (AP)


Dallas Cowboys Tony Dorsett

Tony Dorsett with Heisman Trophy, 1976 (AP)


Tommy McDonald, 1956  (AP)

Tommy McDonald, 1956 (AP)


Cleveland Browns Leroy Kelly

Leroy Kelly, 1973 (AP)


These guys didn’t make millions and they rarely missed a play after getting their bell rung.
Here’s to hoping at some point the owners let Goodell, Pash & company do the right thing.


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