Jun 042013
 
 June 4, 2013  Posted by  Opinions Comments Off on David “Deacon” Jones – A Lion of the game has passed….

Was very sadden to learn that a true “Lion” of the game passed away yesterday. David “Deacon” Jones was the epitome of what defense was in the National Football League and the game of football “back in the day” when football was really football. Much will be written by others about his on the field exploits, I will miss yet always remember his booming voice whenever he was present.

When I was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame new inductees attended a luncheon named after Green Bay Packers great Ray Nitschke with other Hall of Fame members. At the luncheon the new inductees could not speak, instead the seasoned members had the floor and shared with everyone in the room what the game of football and being a Hall of Fame member meant to them. I remember clearly how Deacon took the floor spoke with such passion as if he was in the confines of the locker room or in the huddle. He spoke of his love for the game but also of his love for his teammates and how he would do it all again in a heartbeat. From the tone of his voice I knew Deacon Jones the proud Lion loved the game but he also loved leaving a legacy for others like Reggie White or a Lawrence Taylor to strive to emulate on the football field.

I was proud to know that Deacon played at my alma mater South Carolina State where we played the same position, defensive end. I use to tease him that we probably wore the same number but it wasn’t until I wore the number that the school chose to retire the jersey. My teasing never got under his skin but he always had a good comeback to shut me up! I cherished every moment I spent with him and was very much honored to know him. Most important I am honored to be able to call David “Deacon” Jones my friend.

There is one thing my wife and I know for certain, wherever “Deacon” is right now we are certain that he is having a good time!

Jan 022013
 
 January 2, 2013  Posted by  Opinions 2 Responses »

When I was young I remember hearing my parents, relatives and older friends of my family say to one another “Happy New Year!” That was followed up with how thankful they felt to live to see the beginning of a brand new year. I didn’t really think about at the time but I do now. When I review my 2012, life came to an end for many people I loved. I lost my brother, my father in law, one of my Giant teammates, two of my coaches from our Super Bowl Championship team, several life long friends and acquaintances. In recent years I receive a list of the many former NFL Players we lost during the course of the year. When I review that list and then reflect on my personal list of people I know who no longer are among the living, now I get it. Like those who proceeded me who saw those in their lives pass away sometimes too prematurely, I feel thankful and blessed to be able to see and welcome 2013. As I enter another year and see that another year nor even tomorrow is guaranteed I know that the best gift I can give myself is to live my life to the fullest!

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year! I encourage everyone to live your life this year with no regrets!!!

Jul 112012
 
 July 11, 2012  Posted by  Opinions Comments Off on True Heroes!!!

It’s not very often that I get excited about meeting people. In my walk of life I’ve met and know many fellow athletes, entertainers, politicians and people of great wealth and influence. But, there is no one (except my children and grandchildren) that truly gets me excited about being in their presence.

I just hosted my 3rd Annual Rival Golf Classic Challenge benefiting the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Scholarship Fund. The theme this year was recognizing the Legends of the NFC East with players who played for the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys competing on the golf course. For me, the highlight of the event was not about the players but meeting Mike Thornton and Brian Thacker both Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. At last year’s tournament CMOH recipient Ron Rosser was our special guest and I had the opportunity to meet CMOH Dakota Meyer and Paul Bucha last year as well. To hear and read the stories of these men puts the word “hero” in the proper prospective.

Meeting each individual gave me a renewed sense of pride in some of the more important building blocks of life such as strong character, integrity, bravery, loyalty, fighting through adversity and an appreciation for ordinary people doing extraordinary things. These are the men that we should hold up as true heroes for young people to emulate.

Right now there are approximately 81 living Congressional Medal Of Honor recipients. The award is not handed out to any one. It is awarded to those who have shown tremendous courage and bravery, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism.

To read more go to:

Mike Thornton – http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3432/thornton-michael-edwin.php
Brian Thacker – http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3431/thacker-brian-miles.php

Apr 222012
 
 April 22, 2012  Posted by  In The News, Opinions 1 Response »

On March 18th of 2011 I received an email from former Atlanta Falcon Safety Ray Easterling. Unfortunately Ray passed away last week and subsequently authorities have determined that Ray’s death has been considered a suicide. His email was somewhat personal but I want to share edited parts of the email to readers. I am truly sadden that yet another former player has felt a need to end his pain by taking his own life! My sincerest condolences to the Easterling Family!

One of the reasons why I am sharing this private email is to allow the public especially those who will inevitably say something ignorant like “well these guys knew what they were getting into when they played” to get a glimpse of what they may never have an opportunity to see. To those who continue to think that football players of years ago knew what would happen or to assume they were well compensated for their play and pain, I beg to differ! Players had no clue that getting dinged, getting knock silly or getting your bell rung with concussions had lingering long lasting and even fatal consequences. We are all watching from box seats on the 50 yard line with a view the lingering effects of physical (knees, hips, back, shoulders and ankles) and neurological (the brain) pain players are effected with and how their pain now is handled individually.

Dear Harry,

My name is Ray Easterling. I played from 1972-1980 as a safety for the Atlanta Falcons!

I have always been regarded as a “Hitter”: just recently I was talking with Tommy Nobis on the phone and he said, “Whenever your name comes up, I either think or say,”Ray was one of those special players who was bring it as hard in a losing cause, as he would in a close game”. Nice compliment from a great football player, who I played beside a number of years.

I understand you are on the advisory board of Gridiron Greats and wonder if you would be an advocate for me. I am experiencing an accelerating loss of nerve function in both hands-conclusive from M.R.I., E.M.G., and other tests. Recently, I had an initial evaluation by one of the foremost brain-psychiatrist, in the U.S.A.- my wife accompanied me. He wants to promptly do another M.R.I., Pet scan, Sleep evaluation, other tests because the early tests he performed indicated a possible onset of Alzheimer’s, in light of all the concussions, I played with over 9 years-forget about practice which was worse than a game.

Harry, I have wondered if my business acumen has been askew for several years, due to the number of concussions I played with in games. You remember the code-If you could run, you played! I’ve had two hip replacements), 5 knee operations, another elbow operation, right shoulder re-construction, neck pain and bone spurs. Recently, I have lost the ability to endure even the slightest cold in my hands, and unable to button my shirt. My short term memory is giving me issues and after this initial evaluation my wife is scared to death. The Dr. wants to immediately perform tests, as well as medication, in case his postulation of early onset of mental issues due to brain trauma. I took early retirement and was unaware that I gave up my right to disability.

I was moved by your letter about Dave (Duerson). Harry, even if my situation is revealed to be a not so good prognosis, I am not afraid but I am concerned about my wife. My God is a mighty God and He has hold of me tight-sometimes He provides in all different ways and manners, because He will share His Glory with no man and all praise is His. I do not know what is going to happen but this I do know-I know the one, Who does!

Regards,

Ray Easterling

Apr 222012
 
 April 22, 2012  Posted by  Opinions Comments Off on An “American Man”

I recently traveled to Sarasota, Florida to attend the world premiere screening of “American Man”, a film directed by HBO’s Real Sports contributor Jon Frankel at the Sarasota Film Festival. The film is a documentary of Kevin Turner a former star football player at the University of Alabama and fullback with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. For those who don’t know of Kevin, he is a hardnosed former player who was eventually diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The significance of the film is Kevin gave Jon unlimited access to film him over an extended period of time allowing the viewer an opportunity follow his journey with the disease.

I knew of Kevin’s reputation as a player and had seen him play back in the 90’s but we had never met face to face until the evening of the screening. Upon meeting the 42 year old Turner I could tell immediately that he was every bit a football player. When I say “football player” I mean one of those guys who really loved playing the game! As I watched “American Man” and followed Turner’s journey my heart ached to see the struggles of a player who gave his all on the football field to now having to deal with the symptoms of a fatal disease. Like this and other neurological issues that affect many former players it is widely suspected that Kevin’s disease has been linked to the many concussions he sustained playing football.

During a question and answer session I took part in at the conclusion of the film, I told the audience that I found “American Man” very difficult to watch. But while I say that, “American Man” is the truth for Kevin Turner and others like former Raider fullback Steve Smith another player with ALS. I came away from the screening with a feeling that the film should be required viewing for every football player on every level and for every parent who allows their child to play football. As much as I feel the film should be must viewing I know that there will be some who will refuse to watch and will want blame Frankel, Turner or even Steve Smith for trying to disrupt or change the game of football in some way.

I was actually saddened to watch “American Man” knowing that to see the casualties of the game not only affect the players but the families that never played a down of football.