The New Oakland Raiders Must Not Forget About Those Whose Backs They Walk On

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIFebruary 17, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 31: Punter Shane Lechler #9 of the Oakland Raiders stands on the sidelines during the 2010 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 31, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images


Are you looking for a good cause to get involved in during the offseason? Consider searching for senior Oakland Raiders and answer the question, "Whatever happened to him?"

Sometimes, there is a disconnect between generations of NFL players. Let's attempt to re-connect and to assist the senior Oakland Raiders, if, indeed, they need help in some way during their senior years.

Research shows that many senior NFL players do not have sufficient resources to help them live comfortably and securely during those senior years.

What can the younger Oakland Raiders do to help the senior Oakland Raiders, if there is a need?

Let's at least think about it.


Let's do a reality check.  Let's hear a wake up call.  Let's look at some historical parallels regarding the condition and neglect of some NFL retirees.

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There was a time I blamed only white Americans for the ills of slavery.  Then, after visiting West Africa and doing research, I learned that Africans sold other Africans into slavery for money, trinkets, and stuff.

Again, there was a time I blamed the travelers from Europe for the oppression of the American Indians. Then, I learned that some natives gave up their territory for liquor and other items. Clearly, the case of "wanting what someone else owned" was a phenomenon of both the givers and the takers.

I see some parallels.  Here are a few examples.

Suppose you are born into a family of hard-working immigrants.  They survive the depression, and they kept you clean and well-fed as a young child.  The parents become old and sickly.  You are too busy living the "high life."  You suggest those senior parents live in an assisted living facility rather than occupy one of the six bedrooms in your plush home.  

Who you are is based on the foundation provided to you by your parents.  You benefited from their labor. Figuratively, it was the labor and hard work that broke their backs.

Now let's look at the condition of some old-timers who were NFL players.  I know of one who walked the streets of a small town and slept on sidewalks while depressed and intoxicated.  

On occasion, a family member would pick him up, clean him up, and then drop him off at his favorite hangout.  The rapport between the old NFL player and his custodian was too weak for normal maintenance and care of the old player.  

Hundreds of people observed the situation, but no one got involved.  I guess everyone was too busy or they "didn't want to start trouble."

The irony is that trouble had already started.  If the old-timer was sleeping in abandoned buildings with no lights, no air conditioning, and no heat in the winter, clearly the lack of necessities is a sure sign of trouble.

I read about another senior football player who lives in the woods and prefers social isolation rather than fellowship with a wealthy brother who is also a former football player.  

Let's just say a sports writer found this man in the woods.  The writer went to the woods to get his story...and the writer left the man in the woods. 

Whether you like it or not, what you ignore is likely the very thing that might plague your life when you become elderly.  If what goes around comes around, then the neglect that we have in this era for older NFL retirees may be the very condition we will find ourselves in in just a few more years.

"The Soloist" is a movie and book about a writer who did more. He befriended the homeless interviewee.  Over time, it is said, the homeless man went in and began residing in a more normal environment.

The moral of the story:  The writers who hunt down the old NFL players to write their story ought to consider delving deeper.  They must examine the social condition of those old NFL players and blitz the major media with a "call" for help for those guys.

Next, the young players who are now beneficiaries, and who stand on the shoulders of those older NFL giants, need to bend down, see, and understand.  

They must examine the situations and assist, if at all possible.  They must see clearly what is happening to those men who helped make the game what it is today.

What did you say?  Did you say, "I don't think so."

Here is an answer for what you may have thought.  Imagine, as in a fairytale, someone has the power to reverse all of the foundational structure of the NFL.

Imagine that all of the historic tapes have been erased so that you can not study and model your behavior around the plays, moves, and strategies of the previous generation. 

Imagine a world without some of those great old men whose backs, knees, and heads collided with opponents. 

A conclusion is that both mathematicians and philosophers now realize that what man imagines can become his reality.  In this little story, you would, then, be standing on shifting sands and not on a solid foundation.  

So, if what goes around, comes around, then the care we give the elderly NFL players is the care we can expect in our own lives.

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