What is life like after the NFL?

I know this next blog is supposed to be the next in the series “The 3 C’s of a loving, lasting happy marriage” But, I recently read one of my fellow Sisters in Sports posts on our Facebook page that made my heart ache. She wrote about the personal struggles she is going through watching and living the after effects of her husband’s football career. Other spouses have already lost their husbands due to CTE.

 

CHARGERS V CHIEFS
9 Oct 1994: KANSAS CITY WIDE RECEIVER J.J. BIRDEN #88 IS TACKLED BY SAN DIEGO CORNER BACK DWAYNE HARPER #28 DURING THE FIRST HALF OF THEIR MATCHUP AT JACK MURPHY STADIUM IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. SAN DIEGO WON THE GAME, 20-6.

 

The struggle is real! I have spoken to a few spouses that are going through the same thing, and I have seen some of the effects on their husbands in the short time we were all together for Alumni weekend. I am also aware of the effects on my husband. It might be hard for you to relate if you didn’t play football or some other high impact sport. As a spouse I obviously didn’t play the game, and I didn’t play any impact sports, but I have been married for 25 years to a man that played nine years in the NFL and played in college and high school, about 17 years total playing football. That’s 17 years of getting knocked around and experiencing concussions. I don’t even think you can have an idea unless you have played the game or watched your partner in life go through it. The movie “Concussion” gives a glimpse of what these players and families struggle with. It was a powerful message and so heart wrenching at the same time.

It saddens me and makes me so angry that a multi-billion dollar organization does not help these former players and their families who put in years of hard work to play for them. The families of the alumni are struggling, emotionally, and financially. When husbands are affected by concussions or other physical trauma from the game, there are repercussions. These former players can suffer major depression, outbursts, forgetfulness, anger, isolation, mishandling money, attention issues, short-term memory, difficulty performing daily tasks, having a feeling of mental slowness, difficulty making decisions or processing a lot of information, trouble resolving problems. These things can put a strain on the marriage. (Information on concussion long term effects: Weil Cornell Medical College, Medical News Today)

I believe there is so much more the NFL could be doing to support, to help the players and their families. For instance, health coverage for the former player would be amazing. As many of you know, it is a nightmare acquiring and paying for healthcare. For many years there when we would apply for insurance, the insurance company would refuse to cover pre-existing conditions that my husband had from Football. Even if they are now covered, high deductibles and premiums are financially straining. Not to mention the cost when they have to have an operation for an injury that resulted from years on the field. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know what I hear and what I see. It’s horrible! There is not enough being done period.

Some will say “they knew what they were getting into.” Those who make those types of comments don’t have all the facts. I asked my husband if he had known that he could damage his brain resulting in CTE from the physical impact of the game, would he have played. His answer was “No! I knew there was always a risk of breaking a bone, tearing a ligament. But I was never aware of the long-lasting potential of brain damage. When I think about it, most of the collisions we experienced as players weren’t just in the games, it was in the practices.” Sure there is education now, and now players can choose for themselves whether to take the risks. It’s no mystery as to why so many are retiring now from the NFL while in their prime. Unfortunately, the players before CTE was discovered and made public didn’t have the information that current athletes have.

I know football is not the only sport that has issues of concussions and physical trauma to the body, but football is what I know about. I can only freely talk about my experiences. This is an emotional subject for a lot of us. As my fellow sister so sadly said, “just knowing this will never end, is not the light at the end of the tunnel.” She is right, there doesn’t seem to be light. Keana McMahon whose husband, Justin Strzelczyk, death was related to CTE was quoted in an article talking about other spouses who have poured their hearts out to her. She said “There’s no hope to give them, and that’s a hard thing to say to somebody. There’s no hope. He will probably end up dead and you need to protect yourself is all I can say.” Meaning the damage that is done to the brain has not been found to be reversible. Therefore, those players will have to suffer from the effects of playing a game they loved.

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t” 
― Jerry Rice

The 3 C’s of a Loving, Lasting, Happy Marriage: Commitment

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The three C’s of a loving, lasting, happy marriage; commitment, communication and consistency. Not all of these come easy and sometimes they can be downright hard. I know from my 25-year marriage to my college sweetheart. I think that these three C’s are essential to marriage, no, let’s make that vital to a marriage. Yes, I do believe that there are principles in the Bible that can play a major role in a lasting, loving, happy marriage. In my blog, I am going to focus on the three C’s. I will break them up in a set of three blogs.

First Commitment, Websters dictionary says commitment is: a promise to be loyal to someone or something. How do you define commitment in a marriage? Many feel it comes from a sense of duty. Some people are afraid of the word commitment. Some compare it to a ball and chain that binds you to a wrong decision. And some don’t understand what real commitment is. I think of it more like an anchor. An anchor keeps a boat steady; commitment keeps a marriage steady. To be happy in your marriage, you need to feel more than just a sense of obligation to your spouse. Becoming best friends with your mate will help commitment grow in your relationship.

Marriage is not easy; it takes hard work. Commitment requires hard work and self-sacrifice. You have to be willing to compromise to please your mate. Too often one or the other in a relationship is not willing to yield. One may have the attitude of ” What’s in it for me?” How many selfish couples do you know who have a happy marriage? No matter how sweet the couple felt about each other when they first fell in love, if there is no commitment, then the relationship has less of a chance of lasting.

How do you strengthen your commitment in your marriage?

8 tips to help strengthen your marriage:

  1. Make your marriage a priority: If you invested little or no time in your relationship, then your mate will find it difficult to believe you are committed. Make sure you spend time together regularly. Give them your undivided attention.
  2. Actions: show your commitment by your behavior. Laugh together, date each other. Plan your future together.
  3. Tell them: tell your mate you are committed to your marriage. Make sure you children know that your are committed to your spouse.
  4. Remember: remember what you love about your spouse, remember all the positive parts of your relationship.
  5. Goals: What do you see happening in your marriage? How do you want it to grow, where do you want it to improve.
  6. Speech: Examine what you are saying to your spouse in the heat of an argument. Don’t say things you will later regret. You don’t want, to say things that undermine your commitment. But rather address the issue.
  7. Ask: Look at mature couples, those who have weathered marital issues successfully. Ask them questions to gain insight on what commitment means to them and how that has helped their marriage.
  8. Show it to everyone: Make it obvious that you are committed to your mate. Pictures of them at work, talk positively about them to friends and workmates. You will be emphasizing to others and yourself that you are committed to your spouse.

If you are experiencing problems in your marriage, now is the time to act! Now is the time to strengthen your commitment to each other. The tips above are just some that I have found useful. I hope you do too!

 

“I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.” 
-Mary Ann Shaffer