"Until the public realizes what's going on and how many players — there's guys in the Hall of Fame; in the Hall of Fame! — that were making $300, $400, $500 a month with no health insurance. Again, what is that? That is sad. That is sad," says Dennis Harrah, a Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman from 1975-87 and an All-Pro in 1986. "They're just fallen heroes. You take care of fallen heroes. Somehow, some way."
For now, the lawsuits are still in the initial, procedural stages. On Tuesday, at least four, including one in which former Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon is a plaintiff, were consolidated in a Philadelphia court.
Harrah, like most of the former players interviewed by the AP, isn't all that optimistic about a quick resolution. "They're just waiting until we die," he says of the NFL. "They're just waiting for us old guys until we pass — to quit complaining, and we die."
That same sense of resentment and despair permeates Dorsett's words as he raises his voice and shakes his head.
"They use you up. No matter what the circumstances are, it's all about winning games, football games, regardless. And they don't care, because they figure, you know, 'We got, you know, replacement factories,' which are colleges. And there's going to be somebody else to eventually come along and fill that void," he says. "So they just put you out there, and feed you to the wolves. And if you make it through, fine. If you don't, that's fine.
"Management, ownership, as far as injuries are concerned, I think in some regards they wish they could just look the other way."
AP National Writer Nancy Armour reported from Chicago and Indianapolis; AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich reported from Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis; AP National Writer Martha Irvine reported from Frisco, Texas. AP researcher Judith Ausuebel contributed to this report from New York.
Follow Nancy Armour at http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour
Follow Howard Fendrich at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
Follow Martha Irvine at http://twitter.com/irvineap