Former Bear Fencik: 'Couldn't afford to play in this NFL'

Former Bear Fencik: 'Couldn't afford to play in this NFL'
October 29, 2013, 8:30 pm
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Former safety Gary Fencik took and delivered his share of hits in a distinguished NFL career. But that was then and this is now and “I know one thing,” Fencik said Tuesday night, laughing.

“[Ex-Bears safety] Doug Plank and I couldn’t have afforded to play in this era. We always said we would have played for free; well, we WOULD have been.”

Fencik was on hand Tuesday for the “Moms Football Safety Clinic” put on under the Bears’ and NFL auspices in the Walter Payton Center, with more than 200 interested moms seeking information about concussions and sports nutrition.

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Fencik stopped short of advocating the banning of a player like Washington safety Brandon Meriweather, a chronic offender with blows to the head and who now has declared an intent to end careers with hits to the knees.

“I just think that it takes a village,” Fencik said. “You get a lot of irresponsible comments. But Brandon Meriweather is going to be a father some day and he’s going to have the same concerns when he’s out of football that I and everybody else have today.

“I played with a lot of different personalities and people say a lot of things off the cuff but we all mature.”

Former Bears defensive tackle Anthony Adams, active in the “Heads Up Football” program directed toward preventing injuries, will make maturity part of his own rules for his son’s participation before a certain age.

“I’m all for Heads Up but I wouldn’t force my son to play football,” Adams said. “But it will be his choice when he’s 14.”

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was part of the program but was unavailable to answer questions, about Meriweather, a Chicago Super Bowl and such.

Fencik noted that President Teddy Roosevelt once discussing abolishing football because of its violence and dangers. “So this isn’t a new problem,” Fencik said.

The Clinic included a presentation by Dr. Mehmet Oz, professor of surgery at Columbia University and the star of “The Dr. Oz Show.” Part of his information was a simple test for parents of young athletes with a suspicion of head injury.

“If a kid doesn’t remember banging their head,” Oz said, “they had a concussion.”