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BAMAPHIN 22
06-04-2007, 03:58 PM
Gene Upshaw was taken aback when he first saw the list of retired NFL players applying for financial help under a new program to help those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.



"I played with or against quite a few of these guys," the executive director of the NFL players' union said Wednesday. "I knew one or two were having problems, but I never knew the extent."


Upshaw, a Hall of Fame guard for the Oakland Raiders from 1968-82, is one of four people being honored Thursday night by the Alzheimer's Association of New York for helping start the "88" plan. It provides up to $88,000 from the NFL and the union to help with the care of players afflicted with dementia or related brain problems.

Since the plan took effect Feb. 1, 35 retired players have been approved for aid, with 19 more applications pending. That's up from 21 players two months ago, when the league and union were still trying to go beyond what Upshaw called "word of mouth" in identifying players.

Now the identification is being done through the Bert Bell retirement fund, which handles pensions for more than 9,000 retired players, with the money coming from a trust fund administered by the league and union. So far, according to the NFL, 103 potential candidates for aid have been identified.
There are 54 applications, and no one has been turned down. The applications of 19 players who have not yet been certified are to be reviewed.

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=3227610