NFL neglect of Mackey belongs in hall of shame

John will only get worse. And Sylvia won't be able to retire until she's 77.

In a typical month, she spends 16 days on the road. Laura stays at home and takes care of her father much of the time.

John is not a normal 64-year-old. He's a ball of energy who runs through hallways and digs through everything within an arm's reach. He has the curiosity of a child. He enjoys attention and car rides.

He spends many of his days at the adult day care center, where most of the others are old and frail. They use walkers and canes and wheelchairs. They don't understand that John doesn't want to share his candy. They don't get that by telling him not to do something, they're issuing a challenge. And John is going to win. He's always been a winner.

The Mackeys turn to the NFL Players Association and the Alumni Association for help. In addition, Mike Ditka runs an organization that also provides need-based money for former players.

The league, meanwhile, squirrels away its money and ignores many former players with legitimate claims.

It's not easy to figure out just how Sylvia does it - she's working full time and parenting her aging husband. It all seems so frustrating, but you don't get that from talking to Sylvia. It seems like she just doesn't have time to get sad.

"I take everything in stride," she says. "I stay upbeat. When I hear other women in the same position, it's so easy for it to beat them down. I don't get sad, though. I can't."
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