Are You Ready For Some Donations?
People who know me know I love football. I would often imagine, if I could walk, I would have played football. As soon as I learned what a 1st down was, by playing a Mattel electronic hand held football game, I was hooked. I imagined being a linebacker like Dick Butkus. I loved the concept of stopping the other guy from moving the ball. In Chicago, many kids had the same dream. Then we had the Super Bowl Bears of '85. So many great players have come through Chicago kids could pretend being a different player everyday. Payton, Sayers, Ditka, Fencik, Hampton, Dent, Singletary and I could go on and on. The Bears have more players in the Football Hall of Fame than any other team.
Then yesterday I saw Bear great Mike Ditka talking about the other side of the game. He was talking about how many former NFL players are being left out and forgotten soon after they are done playing. Ditka detailed how the NFL and the NFL Players Association could care less about these guys when their game ends. Often, many of these players are left with life altering injuries that require tens of thousands of dollars for years. Never ending costs for injuries playing a game that generates $5.7 billion in revenues.
Many players get filthy rich playing a kids game. The average player in the NFL, while playing, make over a million dollars. The minimum salaries are a few hundred thousand dollars. While these numbers sound huge, and they are, when the game is over their medical costs can equal their former, now gone, salaries.
Ditka was telling stories about players forced to live as homeless primarily due to these former players spending their former fortunes to pay for medical bills. The NFL doesn't help after two years and the NFL Players Association does little and cares less.
Ditka was speaking on behalf of the group, Gridiron Greats. This group of former and current players help raise money to help former players pay bills and get back on their feet. Often we will see these big strong athletes donating time and money to help others. Now the proverbial shoe is on the the other foot.
I doubt when these athletes were kids they dreamed of being a disabled person like me. I know there are no Disabled Man video games for kids to play. Because the game of football gives me great enjoyment I'm giving a little back.