This doesn’t sound good at all.
Jim Plunkett is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks of all-time, having won the Heisman Trophy in 1970 and later a Super Bowl MVP in 1981 as part of his two Super Bowl titles. At 69 now, though, the toll football has taken on Plunkett was bluntly brought out in an interview with Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury.
“My life sucks,” said Plunkett. “It’s no fun being in this body right now. Everything hurts.”
Plunkett says he has been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy and a neurological disorder that causes headaches in recent years, and that he is in constant pain nearly all the time. Plunkett says that he takes 13 pills a day in medication, but that he has generally been able to stay away from potentially addictive opioids.
Plunkett gravely recognized that the worst part may be yet to come, as he recognizes that other neurologically related diseases like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) could still come as he continues to age.
One of his Raiders teammates, Kenny Stabler, suffered from Stage 3 CTE, an autopsy revealed two years ago. In March, another Raiders teammate, Mickey Marvin, died at age 61. A month later, Oakland teammate Derrick Jensen was dead at age 60. Both suffered from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, that also afflicts 49ers great Dwight Clark.
“ALS and they were gone in a few years,” Plunkett said quietly.
“I don’t know what there is to do,” Plunkett said. “If it happens, it happens. I don’t know how you stop it at this point.”
Plunkett — despite 18 surgeries in his lifetime on his shoulder, back, and knees — is still able to play golf at this point in his life, joking that he likes the sport because “nobody hits you”. He is also able to play catch with his five-year old grandson, so he does still have some physical mobility left despite his age.
However, to hear Plunkett talk about his future health in such a way is heartbreaking. We wish him the best in the future as he continues to deal with the ailments.
Plunkett was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford in the 1971 NFL Draft. In addition to the Raiders, he also played for the Patriots and 49ers in his 15 year career.