Living Glory, Collecting Pain
Injuries are a part of any professional player’s day. Much has been made of the injuries to quarterback Tom Brady before Super Bowl XLII on Sunday, February 4th. But, rest assured, he will play, injured or not.
And that what’s worrying former NFL players like Dave Pear. A hero in the 1980 Super Bowl, Pear is now physically unable to walk, sleep, or live pain free. Spinal, neck and hip injuries have plagued him since before his retirement from professional football in 1982. With numerous operations, he has reduced his savings to zero and debt is mounting. He is on Social Security Disability with advancing dementia from numerous concussions. He tires easily and sleeps 12 to 15 hours a day. He gets a small pension from the NFL, $606 a month. Pear is 54. He and his wife will lose their home soon.
“When I got hurt, I just made sure to get myself back into a game as soon as possible. It was do-what-you-have-to-do, and I did it all,” says Dave Pear.
While doing a story on the injured lives of former NFL players, Dave Pear remembers something to the reporter he wants to give to his children.
I’m going to quote directly from the Washington Post Magazine story titled “The Pain Game” by Michael Leahy, about NFL players who suffer after their days of glory are televised and sometimes forgotten except in trivia questions and official stats.
The items are a reminder of all that went wrong for him – though, in their hands, who knows? Maybe they can hawk them and make a nice piece of change, he says. He pulls his secrets out of an envelope and hoists them the way a precious metals salesman would show off gold ingots.
“Two tickets to Super Bowl XV,” he says. “We all got tickets. I completely forgot about selling these two. I’ll let the kids sell them or do whatever with them. Bet those memorabilia collectors would like them, huh? I got a lot of memorabilia that can go to the kids one day.”
“Hope the kids will like the tickets,” he says. “It’s the Super Bowl. Everybody likes the Super Bowl.”
A ticket stub to Super Bowl XV was selling for about $56 on Ebay with 3 days left to bid.
There are others whose memorabilia comes with stories, too:
Conrad Dobler, offensive tackle, St. Louis Cardinals, 1970s, degenerated knees and hips, physically and financially crippled.
Mike Webster, center, Pittsburgh Steelers, dementia, died age 50.
Brian Demarco, offensive guard, Jacksonville and Cincinnati, 1990s, debilitating spinal and knee injuries.
Earl Campbell, running back, Houston Oilers, 70s and 80s, uses a walker.
Go to http://www.washingtonpost.com to register and read the full story.
There are benefit funds for players who no longer qualify for a livable NFL pension or medical benefits:
http://www.gridirongreats.org/aboutthefund.html led by Hall of Famers Mike Ditka and Jerry Kramer
Fourth and Goal: