Thursday, January 25, 2007

The grueling pain of a glorious past

Last Sunday's SF Chronicle profiled 30 members of the San Francisco 49ers team who 25 years ago made football history with The Catch. But the story was not about reliving the glory days. Rather, the story focused on the painful aftereffects of living every football player's dream. The majority of those interviewed are significantly disabled with pain from repeat injuries to their once-strong bodies. Three have had joint replacements and an additional 9 already know they will need one in the future. The players are in their 40s and 50s, and, though once they were in prime physical condition, some now are unable to complete the most basic of tasks, such as climbing stairs and buttoning shirts.

Some of the players regret what they have done to themselves, while others say they would not do anything different. The story provides a glimpse of the futures of today's players, who are often pushed to be bigger and to play harder than their predecessors. At least today's star athletes are paid better than yesterday's--they will be able to afford the best in artificial joints and spinal fusions.

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