Interview with an NFL Alumnus


Chuck Kimball played for the New England Patriots in the 1970’s against the Dolphins teams from 1975-1977.  I interviewed him today for  Chuck gave an emotional and stirring statement on a couple of the issues being talked about right now; particularly relating a moment in a hospital while sitting across from Herm Edwards and the appreciation and camaraderie both gentlemen felt for the NFL Alumni Association.

It may shock the reader to learn that former NFL players are in some cases, not getting the medical care or retirement income to be able to survive.

Concerning the NFLPA and present situation:

“I’m concerned mainly with the retired players.  One of the issues on the agenda is the hits to the head.  Players are presently in opposition to the mandatory fines and believe it to be one-sided; they believe it’s a system where Commissioner Goodell makes a decision as to who committed an offense and he gets a fine and it’s mandatory and there is no appeal.  He’s fined or suspended or otherwise considered by players to be too onerous.  No appeal  by the players can be presented.   In the committees, a decision is made about the hit and then there’s a fine.  Personally I’m for that (the fine process) but want to see players have an appeal.

“On their retirement situation, the benefits should be greater.  We just got a long-term disability coverage and some things are being done now as far as studies on cardiac health.  I participated in a study about a year ago with the NFL (2009) and went up to Mt. Sinai hospital and within 2 days there were over 260 players come in and get complete cardiac examinations and MRI’s for them and other tests.  We had cardiac doctors from 3 or 4 hospitals that came and volunteered for the weekend to do this.  And they provided a card to each player with their cardiac history on it which could be given to your own doctor for treatment.  And similar programs such as for Prostate cancer are also being done.  Frankly, most of the former NFL players are having trouble getting medical insurance.  I’m on my wife’s insurance.

Lafayette Insurance Company was providing coverage for myself and other players but then dropped it for the NFL Alumni Association and it’s players in 2009.  I spoke with the agent in charge (who does want to provide the coverage) and he’s working on a plan to reinstate that.

“One of the things with NFL players is that the life span is comparable to a fire department or other high-risk employee.  And there is the potential risk of brain injury and dementia from previous hits to the head.

“I saw an article by Mike Ditka and he would like to see a convalescent care center for TKE’s (mini-strokes which cause brain damage, common to NFL Players).

“From 2000-2006 a study was done with 19 NFL players and all of them had TKE diagnoses.”

From my perspective as a journalist, the NFL certainly will want to avoid any problems or PR difficulties and most probably does feel the obligation to correct and provide proper benefits and coverage for these players.