It’s Never Too Late ……………

It’s Never Too Late ……..

There’s been a lull on the sports horizon and very little of late that has been happening . It was however sad to hear and read about the death of Hall of Famer John Mackey . The 69 year old died in his sleep at an assisted living facility during which he suffered many ailments such as dementia , epileptic seizures and the early stages of Alzheimers but the troubling thing related to Mackey’s untimely demise is the mere fact that this former NFLPA President saw that the NFL has done little to assist former players with aid benefits . John Mackey a prodigious and productive player over the course of his career but the sadness in his passing should be something that the NFL can perhaps learn from.

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Slide show for your perusal .

And as saddening as it was to heat of John Mackey’s passing , consider this concerning what can be described as part of the former of NFL player’s last moments on the earth . He had to have constant around the clock assistance as he has lost many of motor neuron skills , a colostomy bag was part of the player’s regimen as he was unable use a restroom under his own volition . Unable to care for himself with a sense of dignity this was how this former NFL player spent his final days on this earth , not quite in a place of degradation but it was simply has to be humiliating to know that this simply is an untold story that seems to another episode that the NFL would rather not let the world actually have an eye on . The underbelly and the dark side of what happens to many of the players that sacrificed so much for their love of the game and with a view to finding success and fame. In retirement we are under the impression that many of the players from Mackey’s generation and prior have all the means where they will be able to take care of themselves with all of the amenities one would deem available to them . But that was certainly not the case and it would now appear for many of his contemporaries from the era he played in a similar position .

We are constantly bombarded with the message that the NFL cares about its own but in reality how true is that to begin with ? Far too many players are actually falling through the cracks when it comes to the so called care that’s said to be provided by the NFL and in particular by the players’ own union the NFLPA . And inasmuch as the alleged assistance that was being provided to the player at the time of his death in terms of benefits to assist him in his time of need , so much more could have been done to assist Mackey and many of his kind who are suffering

The sad part to this all is that while the NFL labor stoppage now in its 116th day very little has been mentioned as what the league’s intent will be with regard to retired veterans and how they will be assisted . More we have been led to believe as part of these labor negotiations has been to do with how the league heirarchy and the NFLPA will split their $9 billion revenue stream . DeMaurice Smith as Executive Director of the NFLPA much like his predecessor Gene Upshaw has said little about the issue of current veterans as to their benefits . And though Mackey died in an assisting living facility what might be even more surprising was the mere fact that the former NFL great’s benefits were actually cut to such an extent that it seems inconceivable that the league now feels that is doing more now than ever before in providing assistance for their former now retired members . If that is the case then perhaps they can somehow explain why it was that former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Webster and Dave Duerson died under such degrading circumstances ? This player part of the Steelers’ Iron Curtain and was a man of honor but his death was in such a stark contrast to what his career was said to be all about. We know that his story has been well chronicled , bouts of alcoholism , depression but again Smith suffered from chronic headaches all due to his career in the NFL .

Throughout the course of his career Mike Webster is said to have suffered as many as a dozen game concussions over the course of his career through much of which the medical observations and advice given to the player was extremely poor. And granted the NFL has progressed a great deal in the years since Webster retired from the game with regard to information and research that the medical establishment has provided from their research into the cause and effect of concussions and head traumas. It hasn’t been the NFL that has actually laid the groundwork in this research but academia and in particular such noted colleges of medicine such Boston University School of Medicine & Neuro Sciences , Harvard School of Medicine & Neurology , Stanford School of Medicine & Neurology as well as the AMA’s own conclusive and incisive research. That being said it has been the NFL’s reluctance even with their own medical counsel who have simply said to the contrary that there was no discerning cause and effect with regard head trauma , concussions and the debiliatating maladies suffered by the players in the aftermath of their retirement from the NFL . Dave Duerson suffered from extreme bouts of depression having suffered multiple concussions over the course of his career but the sadness under circumstances that led to the player taking his own life cannot simply be misplaced as another act of another suicide. There has to be a real reason behind these cases and much of that can be related to the mere fact that the NFL itself has not been there to meet the needs of the retired players.

As I alluded to earlier with Mike Webster’s death came as a shock to many but the conditions surrounding his death are so inconceivable and beyond belief. We know that the player had fallen on hard times that he sought help but little had been forthcoming from the NFLPA and was beyond comprehension to believe that here was a real giant of the game who at the time of his death lived in squalor , suffered with dementia , bouts of severe depression. But what could be even more troubling was the fact that Mike Webster with his medical issues died under such dire circumstances where at times he would defecate and urinate on himself while trying to hold a normal conversation with family members or friends.I am not so sure that in the midst of this all the NFL fully understands the serious ramifications from the course of action that it has failed to take over the years.

I find it rather ironic however that players such as NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and Drew Brees now suggest that this lockout has more to do with asssisting the retired and veteran players than it has to do with dealing with a mere labor issue. Perhaps I’m mistaken but this discussion rarely comes up over the course of their negotiations or the formal statements made to the print and television media . It could well now be that the NFLPA much like the league hierarchy are now seeking to curry favor by seeking the public’s sympathy in the ongoing charade. This has never been a labor dispute in the true sense of the word because it has been in fact merely been about money and how best each side can try to outdo each other while simply not losing face in the eyes of the onlooking public ! It may well be too little too late at the end of the day as it appears that now more than ever before so many former NFL players are living in suffering in such dire circumstances and many of whom may well die in such in such abject squalor or perhaps in other such conditions beyond their control .

In the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement from the Arizona Cardinals it was apparent that the organization would face an uphill battle trying to remain relevant within the league . And for head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his coaches this past season”> season was a trying time for the fans , the team and in particular the Bidwill family as owners of the team.

Given the fact that the team having drafted Matt Leinart his lack of candor and command in learning the nuances of being a quarterback in the NFL . It is extremely understandable to see the reason why this team has failed so miserably in the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement . Leinart with having a heralded career with USC at the collegiate level he has completely failed to live up to the percieved hype that would suggest that he had the makings of a NFL caliber quarterback. His career in the NFL so far can be best described as mediocre for want of a better word !

Coming off a 5-11 season within the NFC West season where the team simply underperformed . Much of that came down to the fact that there simply wasn’t a quarterback on this roster that good enough to command with the respect of the team much less play with any degree of consistency. You cannot imply to me that the likes of Max Hall , Derek Anderson , John Skelton or Richard Bartel are what the coaches of this organization now have the belief in guiding them to the promise land less and a legitimate shot at the Superbowl ! There’s more chance to be had with Andre Bocelli spending a night of passionate unadulterated sex with several porn stars than the premise of seeing that trio of quarterbacks actually leading the Cardinals to a winning season much less raising the Lombardi Trophy in triumph !

From an offensive standpoint the Cardinals are quite an attractive team but without a signal caller of confidence and the ability to lead they will continue to come up short . It would be pretty safe to say that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the league and certainly noteworthy enough to be considered amongst the top five overall ! But the real problem has that has simply bedeviled this team over the past season has simply been not being able to close out games with authority when they have their opponents on the ropes . This above anything else has to have been truly worrisome for Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff .

This upcoming season it will be very interesting to see whether or not the Arizona Cardinals can acquit themselves with any real degree of authority and simply be considered contenders within the NFC West and the conference overall . They’ve shown signs defensively that they’ve made some progression but clearly there has to be a great deal more consistency on both sides of the ball from this team !

One of the most pressing issues for the Cardinals also will be to quell the rise in discontent with Larry Fitzgerald as the player is now said to be genuinely dissatisfied with the direction that the organization is said to be apparently going in. It is abundantly clear that this organization can ill afford to lose a player of Fitzgerald’s caliber and simply become an also ran amongst the ranks of the NFC . And that is something that clearly Rod Graves as the team’s general manager or members of the Bidwill family would like to see isa disgruntled star player looking for a trade . But let’s face facts here if this team can’t take care of business this season then in all certainty Fitzgerald will want out ………. no matter what !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below
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(1) John Mackey, left, and Ralph Wenzel were both on the San Diego Chargers in 1972, but have no memory of playing together. Courtesy of The New York Times /Brendan Smialowski ….

(2) John Mackey, left, seen here some five years prior to his death with his rings from Super Bowl V and the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and Ralph Wenzel at the Annapolitan Assisted Living Community in Annapolis Maryland. Mr. Mackey, 65, and Mr. Wenzel, 64, both have dementia. Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times ……..

(3) Dave Duerson (right) is seen here testifying before Congress in June of 2007 . In the background seated is former Dallas Cowboys’ player Darryl Johnston . Duerson’s testimony to Congress dealt with the issues of neurological disorders suffered by current and retired players . He was a staunch advocate also for the rights of players with regard their medical plight , denial of benefits and numerous other health related issues. He was only 50 years old at the time of his death. AP/ Malcolm Warren …………

(4) Webster and Bradsahaw seen here in Cantion , Ohio, home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame . AP Photo/archives …

(5) First round draft pick, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals speaks during a press conference at the team’s training center auditorium on April 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. Getty Images / Christian Petersen ……

(6) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) catches an 11-yard touchdown in front of San Francisco 49ers safety Reggie Smith (30) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 38-7 to the San Francisco 49ers . AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(7) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson (99) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton in the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. San Francisco 49ers corner-back Shawntae Spencer was also credited on the sack. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(8) (L-R) Quarterbacks Matt Leinart (7) left and Kurt Warner (13) of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after winning the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 32-25 to advance to the Super Bowl. Getty Images North America /Jamie Squires ……
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