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15:16 08/31/2017

Pro Football Hall of Fame reportedly plans for retirement home for players in need

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium before the Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL preseason game in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

It’s an idea that probably should have happened a while ago: A retirement home for former NFL players in need.

That it’s happening in Canton, Ohio, the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, really seems perfect.

Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB said part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s plans for an expanded entertainment district includes “Legends Landing,” which would be a retirement community for Hall of Famers and their partners, and also other former players, coaches and administrators. There will be assisted living and a separate memory care wing, Vrentas reported. It won’t be able to house every player who needs help, as Vrentas said it will have 143 beds, but it will help some players in need. And that’s a start. There also will be the Player Care Center that includes an orthopedic sports surgery center and a behavioral science and addiction center, according to The MMQB. Cris Carter, who dealt with drug and alcohol addiction early in his career, is involved with the latter.

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The MMQB story said the idea originated with the late Gene Upshaw, a Hall of Famer and former NFLPA head. One of the examples used in the story was Mike Webster, a former Pittsburgh Steelers center and Hall of Fame player who dealt with mental issues and was homeless for a time.

“We said, this is what we need, because this eliminates anybody saying we don’t take care of our own,” former Raiders executive Mike Ornstein told Vrentas. “Hopefully, we could avoid having another Mike Webster, who didn’t have a place to go.”

There are many former players who need help, often from punishment they took while playing in the NFL. The league has been criticized for not doing enough for former players. The community near the Hall of Fame will help at least a few dozen former players who need it.

The stories of former players who are struggling in retirement are common the past few years. Maybe this is the first step of many toward helping out as many as possible.

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