Back in Huff's day, pro football was seen as a stepping-stone to another career. No one really thought football was a lifelong profession and no one gave a second thought to the post career problems that players developed from playing in "The Violent World of Sam Huff."
No one has a number because a lot of former players just don't out and talk about their problems. There does seem to be a post-career record of multiple operations for knee, hip and shoulder replacements, depression, spousal abuse, finance problems, homelessness, drug addiction, dementia, thoughts of suicide and suicide. Vested veterans get some post-career health benefits but only for five years. Players from Huff's era get meager pensions and if they didn't get a second job after their career (or are unable to work because of injuries), they ended up on the public dole before the age of 65 on social security insurance and Medicare. The cost to the taxpayers may be in the billions caring for discarded players.
The players from the 1950s just wanted better playing conditions but the owners never took the players very seriously. Huff was out of the NFL when the players struck in 1968. The NFLPA has always had a difficult time in keeping the association's membership together. That is a far cry from what football is all about according to Huff.
“It is about teamwork, teammates working together if you go on strike. (Gene) Upshaw could have been a great leader but when he became the power (Executive Director in 1983) he took away everybody's vote. It became all about money. I know what unions are; my father was in the United Mine Workers. The NFLPA is just an organization. (Current NFLPA head DeMaurice) Smith says it is one locker room (for the present and past players). De Smith never played football; neither did (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell. It is a mess.“De Smith said all the right things (about taking care of the old players) but he hasn't followed through. The worst thing is (the former players) didn't make much money but they made the game. Gene Upshaw changed all of it. He was a turncoat. It is all about money.”
In 1974, the NFLPA's slogan was Freedom Now, as the association pushed for free agency. In 1982, it was "Money Now" as the players pushed for free agency and more money. There seemed to be no long-term plan for the players for good pensions and long-term health care.
Huff wondered how two guys with no football experience (Goodell and Smith) without people around them with football experience could "make up the rules if you never played."