Two months ago, the New York Times documented the struggles Reggie Williams has gone through since retiring. Specifically, Williams received implants for both knees. The left knee worked fine, "but the right one led to a lingering bone infection".
Doctors are still hoping to "re-implant his prosthetic knee so he can walk again." However, a worst case scenario exists that Williams may lose his leg. Even now, he can't walk. Mike Brown hasn't contacted Williams: "Unfortunately, I'm being treated like any other player that ever played for the Bengals," he said. "... Maybe the team can walk away from that, but I can't walk, let alone walk away."
While the NFL Player's Association declined comment for the Enquirer story, Gene Upshaw's weekly 100-word column, on December 17 quotes:
We have spent a tremendous amount of time and money developing programs for our retired players. This fall, I talked to you, our active players—about the amount you contribute (or by which you reduce your salary) to fund pension, medical and disability benefits.
You also fund the Retired Players Department, the Players Assistance Trust (PAT) and the Alliance (comprised of the NFLPA PAT, NFL Alumni Association's Dire Need Fund and Hall of Fame Enshrinee Assistance Fund). We're developing a joint-replacement program, an assisted living program and improvements to the disability plan administered by the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan.
Benefits dished out to retired players has been a rather contentious debate between former players and the figure-head NFLPA (we call them a figure head because as unions go, the NFLPA is the worst among the big three: NFL, MLB and NBA). Mike Ditka has been the most outspoken lately against the NFL's "smoke and mirrors" for providing retired players with the help they truly need. All that did, however, was force the media and NFLPA to go after Ditka's charitable contribution -- mostly through his The Mike Ditka Hall of Fame Assistance Trust Fund collecting $315,000, but donating only $57,000 to former players.
Former players established a non-profit organization called the Gridiron Greats that provides "financial assistance and coordination of social services to retired players who are in dire need due to a variety of reasons including inadequate disability and/or pensions."
It's a sad ordeal what players go through after they retire; either a retirement full of physical pain, or un-addressed addictions developed as young men. In most cases, players retire, and enjoy retirement without problems directly related to their NFL careers. But those that do, really do need the help.