On Tuesday’s Mike North morning show on WSCR 670 am in Chicago, ex-Packer lineman Jerry Kramer was interviewed in Arizona as part of the show’s Super Bowl week coverage.
After talking for a while, the subject of benefits and the needs of retired players came up. We’ve all heard about this issue recently; stories about a number of ex-players who are struggling to live because of injuries inflicted during football have surfaced. Also, there are a growing number of stories about retired players who are ruined financially because they either have overwhelming health issues or have mismanaged their money, and they have little to no help from a feeble pension plan or the NFLPA.
In the interview, Kramer revealed another reason that some ex-players may be struggling financially:
After you play the game for four or five years…….then, you leave, and they want you to sell tires or work at McDonald’s. (Players say) ‘I can’t do that! I’m the kid! I played! I’m the man! I’ve always caught lightning in a bottle! I’ve always been the lucky guy. I’ve always been the exception to everything’. So its a hard adjustment.
Let me first say that I truly feel for any ex-player who is suffering with traumatic injuries and who’s quality of life has diminished since leaving the game. And its doubly sad if those same injuries have taken a toll on a player’s finances. There are a number of stories of ruined families and lives because of this ongoing problem.
But for Kramer to say that some ex-players are struggling to get by because they didn’t want to do ‘real work’ is just asanine. Are the current players and their union supposed to fork over cash that they have earned because a guy who played 25 years ago thought he was too good to work like a ‘regular person’, and now he’s bankrupt? Are fans, the most of whom work hard every damn day and have to save just to pay for a ticket to watch an NFL game, supposed to feel sorry for someone who–by Kramer’s own admission–has had everything handed to them and now can’t adjust to having to support himself by a means outside of the football field?
The Bryan DeMarcos of the world deserve some support and help with expenses. He was an NFL lineman a decade ago, and now he can’t put on a shirt without help from his wife, and medical bills have forced he and his family to live with literally no money. The people Kramer describes here, those who are ‘the man’ and too good to ‘sell tires’, deserve nothing.
WSCR’s afternoon team of Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers made a great point: lets focus on taking care of soldiers who come home from overseas with no medical insurance before we focus on some washed-up old douchebag who thinks he’s better than the 16-year old kid who’s flipping burgers just to help his family.
You can hear the whole interview here. The part I focused on is about halfway through.