Well being of retired veterans weighs heavily on John Mara

John Mara says it is “ridiculous” to consider that the NFL withheld health and safety information from is players over the decades but the Giants CEO seems to have genuine passion and concern for men his age who are debilitated from playing the game.

Speaking to Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger, Mara says he has a tough time with the knowledge that so many men are in such bad shape. As the lawsuits against the NFL continue to pile up, the matter only becomes bigger. It’s going to be some time before this goes away.

For me, it’s a personal thing, because I grew up with these guys,” Mara told D’Allessandro. “It’s shocking to me to see guys who, when they were players, you’d say, ‘This guy is going to have a good post-football career — very smart, has his degree ...’

“And then it’s 10 years later, and he’s broke and out of work. It kills you to see that. It absolutely kills you.”

Mara is personally involved as a member of the health and safety committee. He says the NFL is constantly striving to gain more information and make the game as safe as possible at every turn.

“But the notion in these lawsuits that we knew there were long-term effects and we withheld that information is ridiculous,” Mara said. “Is there some kind of cause and effect? I don’t know, I’ll let the medical experts tell you that; common sense would tell you that there is. But to say we knew it and withheld it, I really find that objectionable.

“One of the reasons why we have a lot of people joining these lawsuits is that we haven’t done a good enough job of taking care of retired players. That’s an issue we need to come to grips with. We made a good start in this last CBA (by reducing full-contact practices, etc.), and by allocating all this money to the legacy fund.”

Now, the NFL will have to find another way to stop the onslaught of lawsuits and in many cases get money to men who truly need it and deserve it.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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