Oakland Raiders: We Love and Respect Both Young and Old

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIApril 10, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:  JaMarcus Russell signs autographs for members of the U.S. Armed Forces after Russell was chosen first overall by the Oakland Raiders at the 2007 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall April 28, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After reading " Military Service Credit for Federal Civilian Retirement" , I was reminded of the situation imposed on some NFL players during the era when America had a mandatory draft into the United States military.

There were a few good men who had their careers interrupted in the NFL, causing a gap in their career length. This issue needs to be reexamined. This issue has affected a few Oakland Raiders who played professional football in the '60s.

NFL football is a part of the fabric of America.

It has been instrumental in helping America keep the morale of the people lifted during times of economic stress and times of war. The Oakland Raiders had some of their best statistics during that era.

When times are hard, football is a good game to view and to release frustrations and other feelings. Families gather around radios, televisions, and computers to shout, jump, and "cuss" about good and bad plays, sacks, dropped balls, and more.

Sometimes we have not because we ask not.

I, hereby, propose that the NFL rethink its policies on tallying the career length of each and every player who responded to the draft, served their country, and received an honorable discharge.

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Here is the proposal. If an NFL player spent two years in the military, then add two years to his career length.

That is the least that can be done.

Why? Here is an answer.

Times are hard now. The economic situation is depressing and stress-filled for many people. Older people are disproportionately affected by the conditions in the 21st century. 

The retired NFL player is a person who has dually suffered injury and stress from playing football to entertain a struggling America during the Vietnam War, and other crises and stresses of being in the military.

Now, these older men who are both veterans and retired NFL players are often injured former football players who are probably disproportionately challenged by the reality of life and aging.

Men who once brought finance and honor to their families and friends, may now be somewhat of a financial burden on these people.

Some of these same men who brought riches to the owners of NFL franchises and to executives in the NFL can now barely, I conjecture, pay a co-pay for an emergency visit to the Veterans Hospital.

Honor these men.

The NFL should and must consider gathering the names of each and every Oakland Raider or other NFL players, and address this pressing issue.

This type of discussion was presented before a "hamburger, coffee-sipping" group of young people who have never even considered volunteering to defend America. Yet, their safety in this global society is defended and protected by those American soldiers who risk their lives for all of us, both in the past and present.

So few of the young people I see seem to understand that their present "safe place" is dependent on and supported by the men who serve our country. And now that service is completely voluntary because the mandatory draft was terminated years ago.

When should something be done for the men who have entertained and served us on the football field while some of them also served us as soldiers for about two years or so?

Now, some of these men who are walking on walkers, sitting in nursing homes, bent over from old age and old injuries rather than walking with a rhythmic swagger need us to show that we care in America.

Care, love, and respect are more than words, they must be accompanied with actions.

These older NFL players were not paid at the same level of these young NFL players.

Nevertheless, there is a continuum in history.

What was done and sacrificed in earlier eras has definitely provided a frame of reference and a foundation for the future.

Consider this scenario. While one mother is proud of her son for getting a touchdown in a professional football game, that same mother (or one of her friends) may be under duress because one of her sons is in Iraq or some other country.

Have a heart, Raider Nation. Support our team, both young and old.

Comments are invited.