Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Price That's Paid

"The night that Sylvia Mackey and Eleanor Perfetto first met, back in October at a Baltimore Ravens reception for former National Football League players and their families, their connection was immediate. As she sat on a couch with her husband, Mrs. Mackey watched Dr. Perfetto cradle the hand of her husband as he blankly shuffled across the floor toward the Mackeys.

'Your husband has dementia,' Mrs. Mackey said.

'Yours does, too,' Dr. Perfetto replied.

'We both just knew,' Dr. Perfetto recalled on Friday, when the two visited the assisted-living facility where Dr. Perfetto’s husband, Ralph Wenzel, resides. Mrs. Mackey quickly added, 'You can see it in the wives’ faces just like the husbands’.

So begins a New York Times article that is one of the most poignant that has ever been written on the devasting effects of the concussive brain injuries suffered by our NFL heroes.

How bad is it? Hall of Famer John Mackey and former NFL offensive linemen Ralph Wenzel -- who played with the Steelers from 1966-1970 -- have no recollection of playing together with the San Diego Chargers. Indeed, Mr. Wenzel's dementia is so severe "[h]e can offer no memories of his N.F.L. career."

Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic examined this problem in the aftermath of last season's game versus Atlanta, and sees it as an even more important issue than that of HGH and steroids. Additionally, the NFL must redouble their efforts to ensure both the safety of today's players as well as the long-term well-being and care of those who helped to make the game what it is.



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