Csonka pens essay on health of Perfect Season teammates

courtesy: Charles Trainor, Jr. / Sun Sentinel

45 years after the most memorable sports season in South Florida history, some members of the Dolphins' Perfect Season are feeling the ill effects of playing football in the early 70's.

Tuesday, the leader of the Super Bowl Champs spoke out about the publicized health of former teammates Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick.

Larry Csonka penned an essay on his blog, describing how he's seen the declining health of his teammates.

Zonk says he believes Kiick is "not as bad off as the media has depicted".

He writes: "I’ve seen Jim the past few years at games. In fact, I was at a game last fall with both Jim and Mercury and had a great visit. I always ask how his health is and how he’s doing with the rest of his life. We might discuss typical health issues a lot of us experience at our age but he always assures me that he’s, basically, doing fine in all aspects. When Jim and Mercury Morris joined me in Alaska a few years ago to tape an episode for NFL Films, “A Football Life,” I noticed Jim was grumpier than usual and worrying more about small details. That wasn’t like the Jim Kiick I knew and played along side of. When I asked him about it, he joked and said he liked being a grumpy old man!

As the media has written, Jim is in an assisted living facility in South Florida. I’m glad he’s there. He needs part-time care. However, he’s not as bad off, at this point, as the media has depicted. At times he requires more attention than others but I know he and Mercury visit, go out for subs and hang out fairly often without any issues. Jim can still function in that capacity and enjoy life with his friends. What the future holds? We don’t know.

Jim has been diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE. After a multitude of testing, Nick’s exact diagnosis is still ongoing. Each are dealing with different challenges"

Zonk also writes about the sport of football, saying kids should not play tackle football before high school, even though he does believe that football is a safer game now then when he played.

He also wrote about his own health: "Football was a much more dangerous sport when we played than it is today. Unfortunately, many of us from that era are now paying the price. I’ve been lucky so far and count my blessings daily. However, I realize I have some of the same risk factors as others who played on the gridiron. I continue to exercise, eat right and take supplements for good brain health. I have several aches and pains but I, basically, feel good and try to maintain a positive outlook on my future.

I believe football is a safer game now. On one hand, I don’t like how new rules have changed the game I knew and played but if the changes truly make the game safer, then it’s worth it!"

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