The death of Pro Football Hall of Famer John Mackey, whose post-NFL life was a mess of health problems, has fellow Hall of Famer Gale Sayers feeling angry that the league and its players didn’t do more for Mackey.
Sayers told the Chicago Tribune that the NFL could have done more to help Mackey, who suffered from dementia and spent his final years in an assisted-living facility.
“You know, John Mackey died at 60-something ,” Sayers said. “[The NFL] could have helped him more, I felt. But they didn’t, and the players could have helped more, and it didn’t happen.”
Although Sayers says he personally is doing fine and doesn’t need any assistance, he seems to be angry that the people making money in today’s NFL don’t show more appreciation for the people who built the league.
“There is no question that the game wouldn’t be a game if it wouldn’t have been for those people who played in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s. The players today are on our shoulders. They think they made the game the way it is today. And they didn’t,” Sayers said. “The [pioneers of the game] played for $5,000 a year, or $10,000 or $15,000. They played for that much money so that these players got $10 million or $20 million a year. Today’s players think they did it by themselves. It’s unbelievable how they could think and feel that way.”