“The doctors with the Bills told me that the Cardinals were telling everyone that I had mental problems and that’s why I couldn’t get along with people,” Ahmad Rashad said, his voice inflecting both laughter and anger at the same time.
It is easy to understand how Rashad could drive other people crazy, like cornerbacks. Willie Brown, the All-Pro of the Oakland Raiders, wound up talking to himself after Rashad turned him in circles and tied his shoelaces together during the Monday Night Game of the Week on ABC-TV.
Even Howard Cosell, given to hyperbole on some things as mundane as a stadium hot-dog vendor, was going nuts over Rashad’s two-touchdown performance that gave the Buffalo Bills a 21-20 victory. “In Buffalo,” Cosell raved, “the acquisition of Rashad is being termed the ‘Steal of the Century.'”
The victims of this outlandish thievery are the Cardinals, whose state of mind may be more in question than Rashad’s considering that they traded him straight up for second-string quarterback Dennis Shaw last January. Not that Shaw isn’t a competent professional; it’s just that Rashad has the talent to become one of the greatest receivers in the National Football League.
Former St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist and Cards beat writer Jeff Meyers wrote this story a few years ago on Big Red center Bob DeMarco and wanted to share it here.
There was a brief moment when Bob DeMarco considered becoming a TV sports analyst after football. None other than legendary broadcaster Jack Buck was encouraging him to give it a shot.
DeMarco, a 2-time All-Pro center, was a natural for the broadcast booth: gregarious, intelligent, outspoken. But with only three TV networks and no cable channels in the early ‘70s, analyst job openings were rare, and DeMarco needed to feed his family of four in Creve Coeur, Mo.
So when he retired in 1976 after 15 NFL seasons, he took a job selling deflocculants, a chemical additive that prevents flocculation in liquids (look it up).
According to a study in 2017, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in 99% of deceased NFL player’s brains that were donated to science. CTE has been linked to repeated blows to the head which is, obviously, is very common among NFL players, in particular, offensive and defensive linemen.
Last year, Jeff Meyers, who covered the Football Cardinals in the early 1970s for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and former Big Red Pro Bowl Center, Tom Banks, collaborated on an unscientific study of 23 former pot-smoking Cardinals who regularly lit-up during the season and sometimes before games. Meyers became curious of how they were doing after watching the movie “Concussion” in 2016.
The results of the “anecdotal evidence” were published in the Winter/Spring 2017 edition of O’Shaughnessy’s, the Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice. The story has been re-printed below with Mr. Meyers’ permission. While most of the players wanted to remain anonymous, a few such as Conrad Dobler, Dale Hackbart, and Banks shared some of their experiences with concussions and how the use of marijuana helped them cope with injuries.