And a legal and media tug-of-war continues between those representing aging and ailing ex-players and the NFL Players Association. Critics charge that the players' union isn't giving retired players the pension and disability funds they need for illnesses linked to injuries sustained during their careers.
Speaking at a special Congressional hearing in September, former Miami Dolphins running back Mercury Morris charged that the "intent" of those in charge of the disability funds "is to prevent the player from getting the benefit," according to a report in the Baltimore Sun.
In response, NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw has asked Congress to help with legislation that could reform the organization's pension and disability system.
According to Schwenk, much of the older players' anger may be justified.
"When they feel like they have just been used up and thrown away, I think it leads to significant health consequences," he said.
Nicholas agreed. He said that while the '69 Jets have fared relatively well over the years, many of their peers have not.
"A lot of these old ball players are responsible for what the game is today," Nicholas said. "And to see some of these people not cared for? Obviously, as a human being, you want to see that changed."
For more on sports injuries, visit the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
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