(September 24, 1941-July 6, 2011)
Born in New York City, New York
Tight end for the Baltimore Colts (1963-71) and San Diego Chargers (1972)
331 receptions for 5,236 yards
38 touchdown receptions
Five-time Pro Bowl selection (1963,1965-68)
President of the NFL Players Association (1969-73)
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1992)
Died from the effects of frontotemporal dementia
Why he might be annoying
He led a players' strike during training camp (1970).
He was not elected to the Hall of Fame until his final year of eligibility, with the delay possibly caused by his union activities.
Dementia made him increasingly possessive and suspicious so that he became 'agitated' upon seeing Marvin Harrison wearing his old #88 with the Colts.
Because neither the NFL nor the Players Association wants to admit there might be a connection between repeated concussions and later developing dementia, he was considered ineligible for disability payments.
His wife Sylvia went back to work as a flight attendant at age 56 to cover the costs of his care.
Why he might not be annoying
His speed revolutionized the tight end position.
He was a durable player, missing only one game over a ten-year career.
Noting that he had been elected to the Hall of Fame the same year as John Riggins and Al Davis, he quipped 'They decided to let all the trouble makers in at once.'
Commissioner Roger Goodell called him 'one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field.'
Reports of his plight eventually prompted the Players Association to implement the '88 Plan' to provide former players with up to $88,000 a year for nursing home care.
Like Dave Duerson, his brain was donated to Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Credit: C. Fishel
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