Hall of Famer DeLamielleure takes on NFL for damage done long ago

Sun Nov 2, 2014 9:57am EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - During a 13-year NFL career, offensive tackle Joe DeLamielleure provided the resistance that allowed great running backs like O.J. Simpson to glide toward the end zone.

    Today at 63, the Hall of Famer is blocking in a different way, and with uncertain results.

He is one of the most public faces among football's old-hands whose physical and financial health have diminished, and who also have a beef with the powerful National Football League.

    First there is the issue of the concussions they sustained when the game had fewer safety rules. But then there is the fact that pre-1993 retirees received no health insurance and that many earn risible pensions by today's NFL standards.

    "I never expected to be the building blocks of a multibillion-dollar industry that won't even give you a crumb," he said. "I get obsessed."

    DeLamielleure, who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, receives a monthly pension of $1,247 from the NFL, while health insurance comes courtesy of his wife's job as a nurse.

    The cornerstone of the Buffalo Bills' famed "Electric Company" offensive line during the 1970s, DeLamielleure still looks good, but the damage he sustained is out of sight.

    Doctors at UCLA estimate that he received 225,000 blows to the head and have diagnosed him with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to depression, dementia and memory loss set off by repeated head trauma.   Continued...

Joe DeLamielleure speaks after being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Canton, Ohio, in this file photo from August 3, 2003.  REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk/Files