Gridoron Greats Has Done More for Ex-NFL Players than the NFLPA

Steven ResnickSenior Writer INovember 14, 2009

NFL or college football fans know football is a violent game, a perfect example of this happened not in the NFL, less than a week ago! Jahvid Best reminds us just how dangerous playing football is. Here's a clip of what happened to Best .

There's nothing like watching on TV, and seeing a crowd in such jubilation after watching a great touchdown run by Best, and then the sudden realization that Best hasn't gotten up, or moved. I can't even imagine what it would have been like watching the play happen while in the stands, because after that the crowd went silent.

All thoughts were on that of Best. Oregon State, the team California was playing at the time, went down to their knees, and as a group said a prayer for Best.

Even with that, Best remained on the ground for 13 minutes before being carted off the field and taken to the hospital. Thankfully, Best didn't break any bones and only suffered a concussion. He is currently resting at home, ruled out for the next game, and possibly the season.

Just recently on Sunday, Tennessee Titans receiver Justin Gage suffered some fractures to his back. None of the fractures were too serious, meaning that he wasn't paralyzed, or needing emergency surgery. Just recently, though, he was declared that he may miss the Titans game on Sunday.

Regardless of what sport, there's no player that's going to be 100 percent healthy, we get that these players will play injured. Yet, in the NFL more than any other major sport in the United States, has the most serious injuries.

In the NFL you will find players with concussions, torn muscles, broken bones, sprains, and it could include multiple injuries as well. 

I wrote an article on Bleacher Report titled The NFL Where Neglecting Ex-Players Happens , which is essentially about a number of NFL players who have suffered long lasting injuries and side effects all in part to the violence of playing a game they gave their heart and soul for.

It explains further just how badly the NFL Players Association has treated these players. Including the denial of disability claims by certain players, and the actual percentage of disability payments made, which is just three percent.

That means 97 percent of the NFL players that look to get disability because they are not able to work thanks to the injuries suffered while playing, do not get any disability. These players must wait until they are 55 years of age to even get their pension.

Further research shows that NFL players lifespan goes till 55 years, so it's perfect. By the time they can get their pension they are approaching the actual life span of a NFL player.

When I was reading an article, I came across a foundation that was formed to help these players in need. This group is called the Gridiron Greats, and its purpose is to help, financially, these ex-players, because the NFLPA isn't doing anything to help these players.

As the example of Brian DeMarco in the article that I wrote when he was helped by the foundation, he and his wife had only 75 cents to their name, and absolutely no food in the house.

The foundation has a website, Gridiron Greats, where you can learn more about the foundation.

Here's a quote from the website itself, "The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund provides hands-on assistance and financial aid to help retired NFL players deal with some of the hardships they may encounter after football.  Many of these players lack funds, disability coverage or pension benefits. Thus the GGAF focuses on the humanitarian side of these players, treating them with dignity, and addressing the post-football related issues in their lives."

I think the quote itself is a shot at the NFL and its lack of any kind of assistance to its former players for the most part.

Also, on the site you will find its mission statement which states "The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund’s mission is to assist retired NFL players, who are in dire health and financial distress by providing a means to regain a semblance of dignity and quality of life that every human being deserves. The Fund will support grant applicants through a series of conventional and non conventional fund raising efforts while calling attention to those in need through partnership programs, licensing efforts and public relations events with the set goal of expanding the Funds assets through partnerships with the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association and Alumni”. 

Although, I think it's the stories section on the website that gets me the most, and what this organization does for these individuals.

Here are some examples in which the Gridiron Greats foundation has assisted: The helping of former Chicago Bear William Perry with assistance fighting his Guillan-Barry Syndrome; helped a former Green Bay Packer after losing his wife; a former Jackonsville Jaguar received aid for food, living expenses, medicine, health care, and even arranged from a donor a car for him for basic transportation; and the last example is that of a former Bear and New Orlean Saints player who suffers from diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, hypertension, chronic hypertension, and severe neuropathy. He was only given $88 a month from the NFL as his pension, so the foundation gave him funds for basic needs.

Again, if you want to find more of their stories here's the link to the site . The board of directors is served by big names in NFL history, including the aforementioned Ditka, but also Greg Brown who was not a football player but is the CEO of Motorola, Jimmy Johnson, Marv Levy, Matt Birk, Gayle Sayers, and Kyle Turley.

Again it's just sad how the NFLPA has turned its back on the players that made it great. Thankfully there's a foundation like this for these players that are severely in need.

There are plenty of people who believe that NFL athletes are overpaid, based on a select few players, that don't acknowledge the fact that the contracts of NFL players are not guaranteed, only a certain percentage is.

Let's say a player buys a nice house, a couple cars, and decide to have kids. That money goes pretty fast, and they depend on that contract. If the player gets seriously injured there's no more contract, and then there's no more money coming into afford what they used to have.

Furthermore, there was a recent article about former NFL players going bankrupt. It's easy to understand why if after they retire and they can no longer to afford their lifestyle, and if there's any injuries that are going to be long term, then getting treatment for those injuries is going to take a lot of money as well.

I know if I had the money I'd definitely donate money to Gridiron Greats, and for those who are thinking of purchasing a ticket to see a game why not instead donate some money to this great cause and watch the game on TV?