Older NFL Players Did Not Get Rich

On Yahoo Sport Blog was a post about the recent NFL study that I mentioned here and in “When Your Football Hero Husband Has Dementia“–an article for the online version of More magazine.  This has absolutely nothing to do with CS, but I was struck by the ignorance of two comments in particular:

im sorry but everyone who keeps talking about the poor insurance and pension plans. They made millions of dollars during their carrer. they should have enough money to take care of medical bills or buy what ever insurance they want. If not then they should of had a better accountant.

who cares? they’re all wealthy, and making money they don’t deserve!

Here’s something I didn’t write in the article about the Mackeys:  John’s first year on the Baltimore Colts, he made $17,500 plus playing bonuses.  The most he ever made in a year–his last in 1972–was $50,000.   No doubt, the biggest bonus he earned was for catching the 75-yard-pass that clinched the 1971 Super Bowl.   But his ten-year career total didn’t even add up to $500,000–less than supporting players now make in a year.   He was left with a pension that netted him less than $30,000 a year before taxes.   It might be different for players today, but the game of football didn’t make John Mackey “wealthy.”

CS Help Shape Our Extended Selves

In 1964, close to a thousand young Americans from cushy middle- and upper-class homes put themselves in harm’s way to participate in Freedom Summer which many historians cite as the beginning of what we now think of as “the Sixties.”   To withstand the dangers and to hold on to a new vision of America, each volunteer had to summon his “extended self”–the part of our identity that is tied to another person or social group.  As I explain in “We Become Who We’re With” in Chapter 3:

Our extended selves are continually affected by consequential strangers.  In the course of any given day, each encounter leaves us with impressions–images and ideas that in turn color our perception and influence our behavior.  We then bring that newly informed self into our next encounter, where we exchange more impressions.

The volunteers’ sense of self was forever changed as a result of their participation in Freedom Summer, and many other paradigm shifts in history have been driven by the same dynamics.  As sociologist Doug McAdam told me, “a movement can’t spread without the influence of weak, bridging ties.”  Translation:  Consequential strangers can take us beyond our comfort zone.

For a more current example, consider the NFL players’ participation in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which began on October 1.  The macho men of the gridiron deck themselves out in–what?  Hot pink.  Talk about a paradigm shift.  But there’s a reason they can go beyond their individual selves.  Read why in my Psychology Today blog, “Will Pink Cleats Help NFL Players Win the Game?

When Dementia Hits, CS Help

mackeysAccording to a recent front page article in The New York Times, Dementia Risk Seen in Players in NFL Study,” former football players are diagnosed with memory-related diseases at 19 times the normal rate.   Sylvia Mackey, whose story is featured in Chapter 4, has been living that reality for the last eight years.  I caught up with Sylvia recently and updated her story for More.com.   Read the article here.

Look for Sylvia at the upcoming congressional hearings about brain injuries and former NFL players.  A date has not yet been announced.