“NFL makes it hard for former players to get help”

Chicago Bears, On The Mark Podcast

Former Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark discusses how the NFL deliberately makes getting help difficult for its former players.

Desmond Clark played 12 years in the NFL, more than half of them with the Chicago Bears. He retired in 2010, but remains a legend in the franchise, both with fans and in the record books. Among tight ends, his catches rank second in team history behind Mike Ditka. He devoted his life to football, rising early and putting his body on the line to carve out a career others dream to have.

Clark is now working as both a financial and business advisor, helping his clients strategize how to build their wealth. His days often start at 4:30 in the morning.

“So much for retirement,” Clark joked.

Clark sat down with the On The Mark podcast to discuss where his life path after football has taken him, as well as what he put himself through to stay on the field in the NFL.

One year, while in the league, Clark started to have stomach problems.

“I was on the sideline one game, my stomach was burning, I was hungry. Monday night, I woke up in so much pain and I went to the hospital. They said I developed ulcers.”

Clark had been taking Toradol injections, a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, on game days. He was taking pills before practices to deal with the constant pain he was in playing football. All of them were given to him by Bears team doctors.

“I was never told that could happen,” Clark said. “It was, ‘Here you go, go out there and get ’em.’”

Clark still loves the game of football and would do it all again if given the chance. As for whether the NFL actually cares about its current and former players?

“You gotta separate the people and the business,” Clark explained. “There are some good owners and people in upper management who care. The business of the NFL, absolutely not. It is so difficult and convoluted for retired players to get help. [The NFL] provides the doctors and those doctors are chosen to deny you. I don’t think it is set up for the players to get anywhere.”

Clark is also working with NFL Alumni Chicago Chicago. There is a benefit concert Sunday July 15 with bands Echosmith and the SCORE. You can learn more about the numerous causes they are raising money for and the concert at www.nflalumnicharityconcert.com.

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