Lifespan of NFL players and fans

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See also: Addiction and Unplug the NFL

The average life expectancy of an American football NFL player has been reported to be very low, merely 53 to 59 years depending on playing position.[1] A large study by Harvard researchers concluded in 2022 that "health spans were reduced by nearly a decade" for NFL players, and "[n]otably, the effects persisted even after the researchers accounted for body mass index and race, two powerful risk factors for the diseases studied."[2]

A selfish and morally bankrupt management of the NFL by billionaire owners who exploit players, cheerleaders, taxpayers, and fans, results in a complete disregard for the long-term health of participants. NFL owners do little to provide for their victims.

In the first part of 2022 alone, 5 NFL players died prematurely: Jeff Gladney (age 25), Shane Olivea (around 40), Jaylon Ferguson (less than 30 years old), Junior Siavii (around 40), and Dwayne Haskins Jr (less than 30).[3]

"Football players at greater risk of premature death than baseball players: study," finding a 26% higher mortality.[4]

Here is growing list of NFL players and enthusiasts who, despite being above average in wealth and intelligence, prematurely declined in their health and/or died younger than the average American:

NFL Player or Enthusiast date of declining health and/or death
Walter Payton, one of the greatest running backs ever died at age 46 from a rare liver disease[5]
Wade Wilson, quarterback and then NFL coach died at 60[6]
Gale Sayers, one of the greatest running backs ever, whose magnificent elusive running was compared with ballet dementia diagnosis at age 70, passed away at age 77[7]
Tom Dempsey, record-setting placekicker dementia by about age 65, and passed away from COVID-19 at age 73[8]
Dwight Clark, star wide receiver and then NFL executive developed Lou Gehrig's disease, died at 61
Tommy Nobis, "Mr. Falcon" who constantly watched football declined mentally for years, developed CTE,[9] died at 74[10]
Pat Bowlen, owner and constant fan of the Denver Broncos died at age 75 after having Alzheimer's disease for more than 5 years[11]
Lyle Alzado, 15-year star defensive end in the NFL died at age 43 of a brain lymphoma, and blamed his illness on performance-enhancing-drugs taken as part of his NFL career[12]
Junior Seau, star linebacker (posthumously inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame) died by suicide at age 43 via running his car off the road and down a steep cliff; family stated that he had shown signs of rage, which could either be due to steroid use (not uncommon among professional athletes in general) or CTE (discovered during his autopsy)
Jack Tatum, hard-hitting safety for the Raiders who paralyzed an opponent wide receiver with an extremely violent hit[13] died at age 61 of a heart attack; had toes and his leg amputated below the knee while in his 50s
Aaron Hernandez, tight end for the New England Patriots possibly committed multiple murders, and was convicted for one. Committed suicide at 27.
Jim Sweeney, offensive lineman started 158 consecutive games for the Jets, then coached died at age 60[14]
Vincent Jackson, 12 years in the NFL as a wide receiver including 3 times as a Pro Bowler. died at age 38[15]
Franco Harris, NFL Hall of Famer and hero in the “most significant play in the history of the game.”[16] died at age 72[16]
Ronnie Hillman, running back 2012-2016, mostly for the Denver Broncos including winning a Super Bowl. died at age 31 from a form of kidney cancer.[17]
Shane Olivea, started 57 of 60 games as a lineman for San Diego died at age 40, contributing cause was obesity.[18]
Jessie Lemonier, ex-lineman in the NFL for the Detroit Lions died at age 25.[19]
Tony Siragusa, Super Bowl winning NFL defensive tackle with the Baltimore Ravens, nicknamed "the Goose." died at age 55 in his sleep.[20]
Clark Haggans, "longtime NFL linebacker who won a Super Bowl with the Steelers" died at age 46.[21]
David Woodley, Super Bowl quarterback died at age 44 after declining into isolation and drinking.[22]
Matt Ulrich, Super Bowl champion lineman died at age 41, cause of death not yet released.[23]
Devon Wylie, wide receiver for multiple NFL teams died at age 35, cause of death not released[24]

(add more)

Liberal denial

Liberal denial disputes the above. Supposedly a 2012 study reported that retired NFL players have a lower mortality rate than men in the general population.[25] Retired NFL players sometimes have significant wealth and there is a positive correlation between wealth and longer life.[26]

See also


  1. Raley, Dan. "New NFL goal: A longer life", Seattle pi, Hearst Corporation, 8 May 2008. 
  9. chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  16. 16.0 16.1
  25. Bell, Jarrett. "Study shows NFL players live longer", USA Today, Gannett Company, 8 May 2012. 
  26. For life expectancy - money matters, Harvard Gazette