Thirty-seven members of the NFL Players Association Denver Former Players Chapter, including former Broncos quarterbacks Jake “The Snake” Plummer and Shawn Moore, and linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, received complimentary health screenings at the Centura Health Meridian Neighborhood Health Center on Sunday, as part of the Living Heart Foundation’s mission to ensure that former NFL players nationwide monitor their health in collaboration with primary care providers.
“I’m only 41. It’s never too early to take care of your health, right?” Plummer said.
The screenings, including echocardiogram, carotid ultrasound and CT calcium score, were performed by Centura Health Physician Group (CHPG) primary care providers and specialists in Centura Health’s clinically integrated network, Colorado Health Neighborhoods.
New Jersey-based Living Heart Foundation was founded by Dr. Arthur “Archie” Roberts, a cardiac surgeon and former NFL quarterback, 14 years ago.
“We went to the NFL and the NFLPA and shared why we thought it was important to track the health and the health outcomes of these players. Prior to that, there was no formal structure,” Dr. Roberts said.
“We have seen over 4,000 players over 14 years. This is also part of a study. We collect all the de-identified data and we’ve published 11 papers in peer-reviewed journals on the health narrative and outcomes of the players, and developed special programs for obesity – so many of the guys, particularly the linemen, remain heavy – and sleep apnea. That’s a big problem in these big players. And of course everyone is alerted, not only in the NFL but in schools, to the concussion issue. We’re starting a new iPhone app so anyone can record and follow up data, and this can benefit not only NFL players, but kids in schools,” Dr. Roberts said.
Former Broncos QB Shawn Moore agreed that being invited to a special event for former NFL players provided the nudge he needed to get checked out: “I live in Virginia but I flew in for the benefits of the testing. Seeing the buddies is a bonus.”
Said former Broncos linebacker Larry Evans: “If it was any other kind of screening, I wouldn’t go. But since it’s the NFLPA, I go, and I encourage other guys to go. My daughter always says, ‘Daddy, you played in the NFL and you need to take care of your health.’ I don’t argue with her!”