The Price Of Playing In The NFL

December 19th, 2009

dave pearJoe has already spelled out the plight of the Bucs first Pro Bowl player, Dave Pear.

Pear has a blog and is active in seeking justice for what his and other former NFL players’ bodies have become, having sacrificed their future physical well-being to billionaires so they can become richer, and for NFL fans like Joe to have an excuse to have a good afternoon and get plastered throughout the fall with mass quanities of Caybrew and countless fantasies of bagging Rachel Watson.

Pear, physically, is a shell of  his former athletic self. He can barely get out of bed. He is in constant pain. All due to the constant punishment of playing in the NFL.

Yet the NFL all but turns a deaf ear to his pleas for help, writes Jeff Pearlman of

“I wish I never played football. I wish that more than anything. Every single day, I want to take back those years of my life …”

The words are not subtle. They spit from Pear’s mouth, with a blistering contempt normally reserved for drunk drivers. We are speaking via phone. I am in New York, sipping a hot chocolate, leaning back in a chair. My two young children are asleep. A Pretenders song, “2000 Miles,” plays in the background. No worries, no complexities. Pear is sitting at his home in Seattle. His neck hurts. His hips hurt. His knees hurt. His feet hurt. When he wakes up in the morning, pain shoots through his body. When he goes to sleep at night, pain shoots through his body. What does Pear do to stay active?

“My life is simple,” he says. “It’s hard to get out of bed, but eventually I do. I try and do a little walking on the treadmill. I take naps. I go to physical therapy once per week. I read my Bible.”

He is, in basic terms, a train wreck — a football-inflicted train wreck. Pear walks with a cane and, often, simply doesn’t walk at all. He suffers from vertigo and memory loss. Over the past 18 years, he has undergone eight surgeries, beginning with a Posterior Cervical Laminectomy on his neck in 1981, and including disc removal and rod fusion in his back (1987), arthroplasty in his left hip (2008) and, earlier this year, four screws removed from his lower back. Though he chalks up his physical ailments to snap after snap of punishment, he pinpoints the biggest problems back to 1979 and ’80, his final two NFL seasons. While playing for Oakland, Pear suffered a herniated disc in his neck that never improved. Despite the unbearable agony, he says the Raiders urged him to keep playing.

It is beyond Joe’s comprehension how NFL owners and the NFLPA cannot set aside a percentage of gross revenues to help out former players in need, and there are thousands of them.

In Joe’s eyes, this a profound, shameful blight upon American society in the early decades of the 21st Century.

4 Responses to “The Price Of Playing In The NFL”

  1. RastaMon Says:

    He was the first Buc hero……

  2. Pruritis Ani Says:

    My very first Buc jersey when I was a kid. Sad to hear how he has deteriorated. I agree with the premise of the article. If he had been in another line of work he would be getting disability payments

  3. Robe Keesler Says:


  4. Wayne Says:

    He was our 1st great lineman. You would think that the players union would help him and others like him.