The Baltimore Colts’ alumni have long been at the forefront of a movement to publicize the pension and disability issues faced by hundreds of retired NFL players. Our efforts on behalf of our teammate John Mackey have grown into a national 501(c)(3) organization, Fourth & Goal, which is dedicated to:
• Gaining representation for retired players.
• Advocating for improved pension and disability benefits for retired players.
• Raising funds to provide immediate assistance for retired players in need.
Through our fund-raising efforts, Fourth & Goal has already helped retired players like:
• Former Chicago Bear Larry Morris – MVP of the 1963 NFL championship game – who now suffers from dementia.
• Wayne Hawkins – an Oakland Raiders’ teammate of NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw – who now suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
• Brent Boyd, who suffers from depression and other football-related illnesses after a six-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.
• Suzie Heywood, whose late husband Ralph – the only NFL player to serve in the U.S. armed forces in three wars (World War II, Korea and Vietnam) – died of complications from Alzheimer’s in April 2007. Mrs. Heywood sold the couple’s ranch and possessions and moved into a horse trailer in order to afford the care her husband needed.
• Syndi Shy, widow of Don Shy. Don, who died of brain tumors in October 2006 at age 61, was the first round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1967 and played for the Steelers, the Chicago Bears, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the New Orleans Saints in his seven-year NFL career.
Fourth & Goal is engaged in an ongoing dialog with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the pension and disability system and to gain representation for retired players. The organization’s advocacy efforts have been instrumental in the incremental enhancements to benefits for retired players, including the formation of the 88 Plan, named after ex-Colt John Mackey and benefiting retired players who, like Mackey, suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Fourth & Goal has been responsible for numerous articles on the issues faced by retired players, in print and electronic media outlets across the country. The organization operates a weblog to keep the public informed, and a private Google Group to provide a forum in which retired players may seek and obtain information and express their opinions.
Fourth & Goal is an independent national organization for the benefit of all retired NFL players. Maxie Baughan, Joe DeLamielleure, Sam Havrilak, Sam Huff, Bruce Laird, Sylvia Mackey, Mercury Morris, Jim Mutscheller, and Charlie Waters serve on Fourth & Goal’s Board of Directors.