Desmond Clark spent 12 seasons playing football in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. Now retired from football, Clark is working in the financial sector as an advisor. However, he has a sore spot when it comes to reflecting on his career in football.
In an interview with Mark Carman on the On The Mark podcast, Clark took issue with team doctors employed by NFL teams and believes that there in incentive for those doctors not to have players’ best interests at heart.
“You gotta separate the people and the [NFL] business,” Clark said when asked if the league cares about players. “It’s so difficult and convoluted for retired players to get help. [The NFL] provides doctors and those doctors are chosen to deny you. I don’t think it is setup for the players to get anywhere.”
Clark relayed a story from his playing career. He was having stomach problems during a game and hadn’t been able to eat due to the pain. The day after the game, he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with ulcers.
Clark had been taking Toradol injections on game days and pills before practices to deal with the everyday pain football causes and the ulcers were a result.
“I was never told that could happen,” Clark said. “It was, ‘here you go, go out there and get ’em’.”
The NFL has certainly made strides when in comes to player health and safety. Changing rules to reduce collisions involving the head and neck, mandating players with concussions are unable to play and reducing offseason workloads and eliminating two-a-day practices are some of the measures that have been enacted to help reduce injuries. However, having doctors employed by teams is also going to present an appearance of conflict of interest when it comes to the health of players. The reality of the matter will vary from doctor to doctor, team to team.
Clark appeared in 162 games over his 12 seasons in the NFL, catching 323 passes for 3,591 yards and 27 touchdowns.