Not every story this week will involve the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Super Bowl pomp and circumstance. Many will deal with the stark realities of football — and its after-effects.
NorthJersey.com examined life after football for some former New York Giants and New York Jets players who are finding life difficult.
The story leads with former Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker, who deals with constant joint pain caused by severe nerve damage.
When the pain grows intolerable, he sits alone in the dark watching movies, passing the sleepless hours that plague him almost daily.
“I’ve sat in bed, praying ‘Jesus, God, would you make the pain go away?’ ” said the 57-year-old Walker. “I just don’t want to go through this anymore. I would give anything just for a day not to have this happen.”
Bruce Harper is hopeful for funding for ex-players that has been promised, but he is fearful it might be too late for him — especially in regards to the lawsuit more than 3,000 players have filed against the NFL.
“Right now, even thinking about (concussions), I could just cry,” said Harper, a Jets receiver, back and returner from 1977 to 1984. “I’m not kidding you. I could cry right now very, very easily. …
“And the sad thing is, I think they’re just going to string this out until most of us die. In my health, I’m not going to live long.”
Former Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall, 51, is suffering from mood swings and short-term memory loss, as well as other symptoms of CTE, the same disease associated with Junior Seau before after he took his life last year.
For Marshall, it’s his brain that’s worrisome. He has bouts of fogginess, where his train of thought becomes cloudy, and headaches that throb from temple to temple. He also has short-term memory issues and mood swings that send him on a “roller-coaster ride.”
Marshall, a former Pro Bowler who had most of his 83 1/2 career sacks with the Giants, said he lives with it every day.
“One minute I’m crying,” he said. “The next minute I’m all emotional. …
“I know that I’m not myself. I’m not the kid that came into this. And this is not what I signed up for. Had I known this (would happen), I probably would have said, ‘The fame and fortune might not be worth it.’ “
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor