Personal choice to play?

Reading comments from Bryant McKinnie on the widespread NFL use of Toradol piqued the Tank’s interest.

The painkilling drug has serious intestinal side effects with long-term use, and McKinnie said players take it routinely and must sign a release with trainers before taking it. So, the Tank wondered: “How many retired NFL players are hobbled by not only Toradol, but the injured body parts the drug will mask?”

Shedding light on this issue was a terrific piece of journalism from Paul Solotaroff. The 2008 article “Casualties in the NFL” used the tragic anecdote of former Cincinnati Bengals lineman Brian DeMarco, who went from being a fierce blocker for Corey Dillon to a nearly bed-ridden life in Austin, Texas.

He spoke about how teams treat players like “cows at the market,” and if they are banged up, trainers will pepper them with “you’re playing on Sunday, right?”

DeMarco, who played four NFL seasons, spoke about how his immense spinal pain would disappear with painkilling injections that allowed him to play when that was the last thing he should have done.

Now, he is paying the price. With only sparse medical benefits, the 37-year-old barely leaves his impoverished home. When he has money to go to the movies, the pain is often to severe to make it worthwhile.

Brian DeMarco with his wife Autumn.

How many Brian DeMarco’s are out there? Men that sacrifice their health to play a game for a few short years.  50-year-olds so ravaged with dementia that their brains resemble 80-year-olds, Solotaroff wrote.

The Tank understands the personal pull a player can feel to get back on the field. When this college football player broke his left hand, the doctor said the third metacarpal was drastically displaced and on the verge of needing surgery. Instead of taking precaution, this then 20-year-old kid had it casted, wrapped in padding and played the next Saturday.

Now, he is paying the price. It isn’t serious but dull soreness will set in when I type for extended periods of time.

Was it worth it? No. But I have fond memories of being a part of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s first NCAA playoff team.

It was my personal choice to play; I’m not so sure NFL players have that freedom.



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