Sobering Tales Of Wounded ’79 Bucs

July 26th, 2010

Joe took pause this weekend after reading the Tampa Tribune’s in-depth look at the declining health of the Buccaneers who played on the 1979 team that lost in the NFC Championship.

It’s sad that the NFL isn’t more aggressively taking care of these players.

How much the league should give and how much these guys’ problems are a result of football is up for debate. But it’s clear the NFL isn’t doing nearly enough.

The entire Broken Bucs feature package from the Tribune and is quite good. Here’s just one excerpt that hit Joe in the gut.

A writer once described [Jimmy] Giles as having a Mack truck body and Corvette speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, remarkable for a 245-pound man. Now, 100 pounds heavier, he is unsure about walking to his mailbox.

His bad knees, four degenerative discs in his back and three in his neck are miserable reminders of a glorious but violent career. He finds relief in epidural injections. The Social Security Administration declared him disabled, but NFL doctors have repeatedly denied him disability benefits, saying he was capable of doing sedentary work.

Beyond the physical anguish, Giles forgets things. He abruptly shut down his financial services company in 2007 after becoming disoriented on the job.

“All of the sudden, one day, man, I couldn’t remember where in the heck I was,” said Giles, 55, who filed for bankruptcy in March. “I had to give that business up because it required a lot of thinking. I’m dealing with people … and their lives and fortunes.”

Giles estimates he had about a dozen concussions during his NFL career.

Had he known how his health would deteriorate, Giles, a four-time Pro Bowl player, wouldn’t have chased the NFL dream. “Absolutely would not play,” Giles said with conviction. “Absolutely would not.”

Ugly stuff.

About four years ago, Joe worked in an office with a 40-something former NFL player who played eight seasons and had a very solid career. This guy was in A+ shape, but he had one problem. He walked very gingerly, like a man 35 years older might move. 

One day, Joe asked him if he was OK. He replied, “I’m fine. That’s just playing on turf in the NFL.”

5 Responses to “Sobering Tales Of Wounded ’79 Bucs”

  1. CalicoJack Says:

    Sadly, it makes me wonder what Lynch, Sapp, Brooks, Alstott, and others will be like 30 years after the Super Bowl…

  2. Capt.Tim Says:

    This is a sad story. Jimmy Giles deserves better than that! Hope the NFL starts taking care of the guys who helped make them their fortunes! Articles like this are the way to make it happen.

  3. Gary Says:

    Truly disheartening to know that with all the money going around, former players become the odd man out.

    They get it twice because they weren’t paid nearly as much as players today and then they don’t get paid now either. So even if they were smart enough not to spend all their money on cars and useless luxuries during their playing days, it wasn’t enough to get them through the tough times after playing.

    Look at what they are going through, and then picture Pacman Jones “makin’ it rain on dem hoes!”… saddening.

  4. eric Says:

    Wow, he would not have chased that Dream. That really tells it all.

  5. topdoggie Says:

    There are more than a few former players telling parents not to let their children play fooball.