View Full Version : Glory fades, pain endures

Denver Native (Carol)
09-02-2007, 12:53 PM
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_6781840 -

The full story is way too long to copy it all here, but definitely worth the read.

With some 1977 Broncos among the "lucky" to get disability pay, the team is a testimony to life after a rough sport

Every morning when he awakes, former Bronco Tom Glassic takes stock of the level of pain racking his body. Then he plans that day's medication and therapy regimen: a combination of pain pills, hot-tub sessions, stretching and usually a battle re-enactment with his prized collection of toy soldiers.

"I can still crawl around on the floor," Glassic says, in the self-deprecating and sardonic fashion that reflects his refusal to expect or accept pity. "As long as I can crawl around on the floor and play with my soldiers, I'm happy."

The starting guard on Denver's groundbreaking 1977 team, the first to make the Super Bowl and the one that generated an "Orange Crush" of wide-eyed, perhaps even naive enthusiasm in an evolving city with an inferiority complex, Glassic played eight seasons for the Broncos.

At 53, he has sciatica, compressed vertebrae and degenerative disc disease. His knees ache too. "One's bad, and one's getting worse," he says.

Still, many other NFL players would consider Glassic one of their more fortunate brethren for this reason: He fought for and - finally - won disability payments from the NFL and the National Football League Players Association. As the NFL is set to begin its 88th season, more attention than ever is focused on the league's former players.

Glassic's post-career physical problems are extreme, yet are part of a pattern, even among that '77 Denver roster. The game takes a toll, and 30 years later, those Broncos - like most other players who have passed through the team's dressing rooms since 1960 - in many cases live with maladies and daily pain.

There is running back Otis Armstrong, who has pain in his spine and neck, yet has the financial consolation of receiving an injury settlement from the Broncos and also succeeding in fighting through that NFL-NFLPA labyrinth to receive disability benefits.

Linebacker Tom Jackson and quarterback Craig Morton underwent knee replacements this year. It was Morton's third replacement, and he continues to have neck pains - in addition to a recent prostate cancer scare.

Linebacker Randy Gradishar will face knee replacement in the future and has a mangled left ring finger. Running back Rob Lytle has had more than a dozen surgeries and has an artificial hip and shoulder.

09-02-2007, 12:59 PM
Thanks for posting that, DN.

It certainly brings out the heavy price they have to pay to play football . . .


09-02-2007, 02:28 PM
I'm sure Mark Shlereth will have is fair share of sugeries to repair or replace things as he gets older. Last i heard it was in the 30's (surgeries).

I'm sure if these guys like Armstrong, Morten, Glassic, and others knew of the pain and aches they would end up with, they would have done something, much like the athletes today (supplements, Vitamins, work-outs, physicians) to help ease that pain or even possibly shortened their career because of them.

Concussions and vertabrae injuries are another matter because they are not something you can just pop a pill for or work-out in the gym to prevent or help with. Those injuries can by life changing. More so than your usual ACL tear. I'm not making hip, knee, and shoulder replacements a light matter, but those things can be replaced. Not your brain or vertabrae.

I hate to here it for those guys, even the ones i've never heard of. As much money as the NFL brings in, it's a freaking shame that they can't do something more for the guys who have and will continue to make this game the greatest game on earth.

09-02-2007, 02:34 PM
Reading that bit about Gradishar reminds of how one knocks on him for getting into the Hall of Fame is that he didn't play long enough. I guess he was expected to play until he couldn't walk. :rant: