Original Bengal has rough go in retirement

Original Bengal has rough go in retirement
May 18, 2014, 7:00 pm
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Bill Staley wasn’t a big star in the NFL. He owns a small piece of Cincinnati Bengals history as the second player ever drafted by the franchise in 1968. But, otherwise, he was an undistinguished defensive lineman who had a five-year, injury-hampered career.

And unlike other former players who say they take the travails of retirement as part of the bargain for being able to play in the NFL, Staley said: "I don't think I would do it again."

His is a name to attach to the hard-knock life of many former NFL players long after the hard knocks of football are over, as detailed in a piece by Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Staley has traumatic brain injury from concussions during his playing career. How does that manifest itself?

"My brain is not working," Staley told The Enquirer. "I have headaches that last three weeks at a time. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."

Staley receives assistance from the 88 Plan, named after the late Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey, which aids ex-NFL players suffering with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, ALS or Parkinson's disease. Part of his brain “not working” includes bouts of anger. Staley carries a whistle around his neck to help him deal.

"That may sound silly to you, but it helps me to remember that during football the referee blew a whistle to end the play,” he said. “For me, it means the anger is over. You exit the place you're in for a few minutes and get yourself back together.”