“Delay-Deny-Hope You Die”
The pictures in your mind never-ever go away.
Ryan Shazier of the Steelers, lying motionless on the field, after a head first tackle into a ball carrier, his career damaged, and life likely changed by a neck injury.
Mike Utley of the Lions, flipping over, crashing to the ground, his offensive lineman bulk flying thru the air, landing on his head, with his arms flailing out of control. Paralyzed.
Daryl Stingley of the Patriots, going down after a violent head on collision. A quadriplegic for life till death.
And then the face of Mike Webster of the Steelers, Iron Mike, as they called him. The epitome of toughness as a player, a weakened degenerate of a man by the time he passed.
The excitement and explosiveness of the NFL game is the hook that lures fans to stadiums and to televisions each weekend. The damage done to the players is hardly ever seen, till we are reminded of the victims.
The players, then their families, then the bitterness.
3-starting offensive lineman of the Pittsburgh Steelers are dead because of head trauma, concussions, CTE, and brain damage, all from the same era..
We all know the stories of Mike Webster, the face of toughness, the legendary Steelers center, dead at an early age because of decades plus of blows to the head, blocking after snapping the ball.
His right tackle Justin Strelczyk is dead too, in a wild rage auto accident on the New York Thruway, driving at a high rate of speed, heading eastbound on the westbound lanes on the Thruway, running into a gasoline tanker truck head on, a suicide mission.
That right guard Terry Long, deceased too, self-indicted, drinking anti-freeze in an angry rant, after years of off field mental problems and incidents when his life was no longer football.
All three died from acute CTE to the brain, after all those years playing in the NFL.
It has been a couple of years since the settlement of the 965M-CTE lawsuit, filed by families of players suffering from dementia, Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease.
All allegedly brought on by playing in the NFL and by suffering concussions.
The suicides of Junior Seau, Andre Waters, Dave Duerson and others is like a scorecard, never to be forgotten.
Steve Gleason, the Saints linebacker, is a testament to those still living, but dying a slow death, bound to a wheelchair with ALS.
Payments are being made slowly but surely to those suffering players, and to the families of those who took their own lives. Anywhere from 3M to 5M for the worst cases, for those who died.
The research continues at Boston University, where at last count 110 of the 111 players autopsied, had CTE when they died, most at ages 30 to 60.
But as the payments are being metered out slowly, there will be no payments to Mike Webster’s family, Strelczyk’s wife and kids, nor Long’s loved ones.
It’s because the NFL and the lawyers agreed that payments would go to any players afflicted after the year 2006. No one before could get those payments.
Webster died in pain; Strelczyk died in a fire; Long choked to death, all prior to the 2006 threshold date.
Imagine how many other senior players there may still be out there, suffering, whom cannot get payments.
Did you know any player that retires today, who develops these systems going forward in their post career life, cannot file a claim? That’s as absurd for we know hitting, concussions, head injuries continue to happen, with damage not likely to show up for years.
And like the Webster family destitute, or the other Steelers teammates, embittered by treatment, it all seems unfair.
Maybe the judge in the case will appoint a special committee to evaluate the aging players issues.
It’s shameful, that the CTE disease, and the CTE settlement, is all the result of Mike Webster, and no one seems willing to find a way to take care of the hurt, pain, agony his family has gone thru, after watching the hurt-pain-agony he went thru at the end of his life.
The history of the league in dealing with workmen comp claims, and the lawsuits is well known. It came from players who testified they felt the NFL’s mode of operation was ‘delay-deny-hope you die’.
In Mike Webster’s death there is hope for better medical research and better future health for players going forward in the NFL.
The NFL and the Steelers owe him and his 2-fallen Pittsburgh teammates something, don’t they?