Blood Equity (DVD Review)24 Oct, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Prebook 10/27/09; Street 12/1/09
Featuring Mike Ditka, Harry Carson, Willie Wood, Cyril Smith, Donnie Green, Tony Dorsett, Darryl “Moose” Johnston.
The National Football League attracts 17.6 million fans and generates about $7.2 billion annually. As a result, the NFL Players Association, the union representing about 1,400 players, has amassed a war chest of $1.2 billion, yet largely turns a blind eye toward the health and welfare of former players who helped make the league what it is today, according to the documentary Blood Equity.
The film explores (a bit one-sidedly) the dark side of America’s most lucrative blood sport and the struggles some players have regarding compensation for serious disabilities as a result of playing football.
Blood Equity features frank interviews about the horrific repercussions of football injuries with the likes of Mike Ditka, Harry Carson, Willie Wood, Cyril Smith, Donnie Green, Tony Dorsett and Darryl Johnston.
Specifically, the documentary focuses on the misfortunes befalling Hall of Famers Mike Webster and John Mackey. Webster’s lawyer and son explain how the former Pittsburgh Steelers center, suffering from diminishing mental capacity, was continually denied benefits by the NFLPA until his death in 2002.
Considered the greatest tight end in NFL history, former Baltimore Colt Mackey was forced to go on his wife’s health care plan as the once erudite player and businessman dealt with the debilitating effects of dementia and the NFLPA’s tepid efforts to provide assistance.
Blood Equity is indeed a sobering look at pro football. It is also a snapshot of a callous, greed-driven business.