On the same day Tom Brady said his concussion history isn’t anybody’s business, a former Patriots quarterback revealed the painful toll the game of football has taken on his body.
Jim Plunkett, who was the Pats signal-caller in the ’70s, says he suffers from chronic, debilitating pain as a result of being sacked, or hit, hundreds of times during his 15-year NFL career. Plunkett says he has to take a dozen pills every day to “quote-unquote survive.”
In an agonizing interview with the San Jose Mercury News, the 69-year-old Plunkett put it this way: “My life sucks. It’s no fun being in this body right now. Everything hurts.”
A Heisman Trophy winner at Stanford, Plunkett was drafted No. 1 by the Patriots in 1971. But the team was bad — 3-11 bad — and Plunkett was sacked 36 times in his rookie season. He was sacked 39 times the next season, and 37 the year after that. (Brady was sacked only 15 times last season, but No. 12 was sacked at least 30 times in 2002, 2003, 2011, and 2015, and 40 or more times in 2001 and 2013.)
“[Plunkett] just got hammered — I mean hammered brutally,” former Pats receiver Randy Vataha told the Mercury News. “He got up a lot of times when he shouldn’t have. Probably played some games when he shouldn’t have.”
Plunkett, who went on to win two Super Bowls with the Oakland Raiders, said he’s aware of the research linking football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
“I don’t know what there is to do,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. I don’t know how you stop it at this point.”