For the San Francisco 49ers, 1981 was the year of “The Catch” and subsequent beginning of their Super Bowl run in the 1980s. Yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle had a scary but fascinating article on the physical pain virtually all of the players on that year’s team endure today, including wide receiver Mike Shumann, who provided the quote in the above headline. The article notes:
This snapshot of one championship team reflects the harsh reality for most former NFL players. Stand on the sideline during a game and you might wonder why the toll isn’t worse. Television does not begin to convey the extraordinary size of pro football players, the freakish speed at which they move and the bone-rattling brutality of their collisions.
“When you’re on the sideline, and these guys go past you, it’s almost like a herd of horses,” said Marc Safran, director of sports medicine at UCSF. “You feel like the ground really shakes.”
At the start of the film North Dallas Forty, Nick Nolte’s character is barely able to get out of bed the Monday after a big game. And he was portraying a wide receiver in his early 30s. Add 15 to 20 years, and the physically degenerating toll on a former player’s body is even worse.