When the curtain was pulled back on the health issues being suffered by former Miami Dolphins stars Jim Kiick and Nick Buoniconti the natural question would be, who else?
Kiick and Buoniconti are not just ex-NFL players. They are Miami legends and icons. Buoniconti the short statured number 85 who led the no-name defense of the early to mid 70’s. Kiick a member of the Butch Cassiday club with Larry Csonka. Kiick and Csonka, Csonka and Kiick you can’t say one without the other.
The MMQB articles on Monday by S.L. Price pulled back the veil of what they are going through now. Today, Miami Herald beat writer Armando Salguero reached out to several former Dolphins to see how they are feeling these days.
Salguero wasn’t the only talking bout the eye-opening article however. Larry Csonka was too.
"I usually see my teammates at the Dolphins alumni event each year so I was aware of some issues with both men. However, I wasn’t aware of the extensive problems both have been dealing with, especially with Nick. Learning this, of course, saddens me a great deal. – Larry Csonka"
Csonka wrote a somber article on his own website, LarryCsonka.com and it really is a must read.
Salguero spoke to several former Dolphins and you can read their story by clicking on the names below. It’s a sad and awful truth about a sport that is so well-loved.
"Jim Langer –“Anybody who played in the NFL is going to feel it at our age. You can’t be in a continuous car crash for three hours per week and not feel it when you get older.”"
"Larry Little –“I look at us compared to the great Pittsburgh teams and lot of Steelers died young. Percentage-wise our team is in decent shape, but those select few who have suffered makes it alarming. They were such vibrant personalities.”"
"Mercury Morris –“I look at Jim Kiick and I see he’s doing OK. He’s much better than you’d think you would be in that circumstance. But he does have his bad moments.”"
"Dick Anderson –“It’s terribly sad to see someone you were close with, that you won with, deteriorate in their mental capacity."
As these Dolphins age they break down. We are hearing about the Morris’, Kiick’s, and Buoniconti’s now. We will soon hear about the Webb’s, Clayton’s, and Marino’s. Morris points out in his interview with Salguero that the NFL has never done enough for the older players and that the settlement reached with the NFLPA does not help players prior to 1993.
The players from the 70’s feel it now. The 80’s are next. The brutality of the 60’s and 70’s however will never be seen again in professional football. And the men who stood behind the birth of what could arguably be America’s top sport, are paying the price.
It’s likely that over the next couple of weeks or even months more stories will begin to float to the surface of the challenges that former Dolphins and more likely than not players from other teams are enduring. And they should come out. It’s a valuable lesson that needs to be learned from and hopefully, it might get the NFL to do something to help.