Pittsburgh Steeler mortality

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by ollinger, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    As reported in the L.A. Times recently, there has been what seems to be an inordinately high mortality of former football players since the year 2000, and at least 20 percent have been former Pittsburgh Steelers from the glory years. There have been at least 38 deaths, and 17 of them were under age 60. Performance enhancing drug use in the past?? Too much weight lifting?? Just a coincidence??
     
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  2. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    Maybe and maybe not. You tell me. I'm sure that 'roids contributed to at least a few of these deaths, but the rest of the league were doing 'roids too. Too much weight lifting? You're joking, right?

    Several of those deaths were from heart failure, and those guys were all linemen in their playing days and never really lost the weight. Athletes who are huge to begin with and go to pot after they retire have traditionally had shorter-than-average lifespans. But 'roids may have contributed to all or some of those deaths.

    Ernie Holmes, who died earlier this year, was thrown from a moving vehicle so I'm guessing that death wasn't caused by "drug use". Justin Strzelczyk was also killed in an automobile accident. An autopsy showed that he had signs of chronic brain damage-probably due to the many concussions he suffered. Steve Courson was crushed by a falling tree in his yard. He was a BIG 'roid user, but I doubt that that was the cause of his death. He died trying to save his dog and a gust of wind blew the tree back on top of him. Mike Webster was probably a serious 'roider; he died of a heart attack. He was homeless and lived under a bridge, but like Strzelczyk, Webster had suffered brain damage to his frontal lobes from so many helmet hits.

    So the 'lers have been hit pretty hard in recent years, but I'm fairly certain that other teams' retirees will be 'catching up" shortly as they enter their 60's. It's one brutal, nasty game that beats the body and mind to jello. Add long-term 'roid usage on top of that and you've got a lethal mixture.
     
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  3. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    Great recollection there Phil. Iron Mike was a particularly sad story. Sold his Super Bowl rings, lived in poverty, and got so bad that he didnt have control of bodily functions. An intelligent guy graduating the right way from Wisconsin I believe who evidently did too much chemically to play years on end without missing a game....all at around maybe 230...very light for a lineman, even back then..it's a shame, and this was before the days of the 'overpaid athlete'. Think Strzelczyk became suicidal and his crash was the result of driving at 4,000 MPH going the wrong direction....None of the Stillers were convicted felons (well maybe Jefferson Street Joe Gilliam did some time?) unlike todays football 'stars', many of whom are convicted felons
     
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  4. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    Thanks. I (actually, WE!) grew up with those guys and of all the legends who played on that team, I think Iron Mike most epitomized the mindset of the Steelers. What a player and what a sad, sad end, as you said.

    Yeah, these guys were pre-gang banger NFL! Strzelczyk was from a latter era, of course and I believe he crashed while being pursued by the cops.
     
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  5. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    A great time to grow up in theBurgh for sure. so many heroes who were accessible. Dont know that you have the NFL network but this Thurs on that channel in an episode of Americas Game is the story of the 75 Steelers narrated by Bruce Willis. I've got my TIVO set. Also on America Game, they had a show about the Steelers Dynasty that featured players who werent as much in the limelight like Mike Wagner and Andy Russell..lots of talk about the pride and fighting about whether the 'Steel Curtain' meant the D Line or the whole defense, and a funny story and video about this interception Andy Russell made against Burt Jones in a playoff game. Dwight White said he was on the turf when Russell got the pick, but got up and blocked for Russell no less than 3 times on the same play before Russell lumbered into the endzone..lol. The video showed this to be true...I swear Russell was the slowest guy in the world, but he never seemed to be out of position or miss a tackle. Zero to 60 on a Sunday afternoon....
     
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  6. xtremerunnerars

    xtremerunnerars Hall of Fame

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    If I had to guess why we notice the steeler deaths...it's probably because they were so dominant and famous partly. They played super super physical from what I've seen and heard (I'm from pittsburgh) so I'm sure that plays a role.

    I'm not outlawing performance enhancers though.
     
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  7. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    I don't get the NFL Network, but wish I could watch that special. I remember that Russell inter.-one of the smartest LB's who played in that era...along with Jack Ham. Even the unheralded players like Wagner and Russell were great by any standard, but with so many future Hall-of-Famers on that team, it was tougher to get national recognition.

    I think it's more than that. The numbers-20% ALL ex-NFLers who have died in the time frame indicated-are what makes the Steelers stick out here.
     
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  8. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    This scares me because one of my best friends plays for the Steelers right now.

    You have to remember that while today's players are bigger, faster and stronger, safety technology advancement has outpaced player's increases in physical stature.

    There were no Schutt DNA or Riddell Revolution helmets back in the 70s (for those uninformed, Schutt DNA helmets incorporate Skydex padding, which is what is in Army paratrooper helmets, and Riddell Revolution is the funny looking helmet Peyton Manning wears that is the most circular and deflects most hit, making those two the most advanced helmets available), thus making it much more likely for players to suffer physical aliments through repeated collisions. It isn't just the bone jarring hits that effect the players' long term health but also the constant pounding that linemen take on the trenches.
     
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