Scientists find first drug that appears to slow Alzheimer's disease

There is exciting new research showing that patients with "mild" Alzheimer's had a 34 percent delay in symptoms when taking the drug Solanezumab. 

These results were released yesterday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, D.C.

“This is the first evidence of something genuinely modifying the disease process,” said Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “It’s a breakthrough in my mind. The history of medicine suggests that once you get through that door you can explore further therapeutic opportunities much more aggressively. It makes us less helpless.”

If these findings are correct, it will become even more critical for doctors and neurologists to detect dementia & Alzheimer's disease as early as possible.

Dr. Doug Brown, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Today’s findings strongly suggest that targeting people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease with these antibody treatments is the best way to slow or stop Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs are able to reduce the sticky plaques of amyloid that build up in the brain, and now we have seen the first hints that doing this early enough may slow disease progression.”

Some of the clinical trials on this drug are being conducted right here in the Western New York area at Dent Neurological. Dr. Rainka is overseeing the study and participants are still needed. This prevention trial is called the A4 study. If you are interested in learning more about it, please contact Caroline Kumm by e-mail at ckumm@dentinstitute.com or phone 716-558-3492.

If further trial results are positive, it will still be several years before the drug becomes available. Another trial is due to report in 2016 and then the drug will need to go through regulatory approval. 

I hope they do everything they can to make sure the drug is safe and effective and then, if possible, speed up the process for making it available to former NFL players and all people that have been diagnosed with mild dementia and early onset of Alzheimer's disease.  The clock is ticking......... and time is not on their side.    

Here is a link to the article discussing the new findings: Lilly Alzheimer's Drug Seems to Slow Diseases Progress 

 

Did you Appeal the NFL Concussion Settlement?

It has recently come to my attention that there were a couple of former NFL players that did not give their authorization for an attorney to file an appeal of the NFL Concussion Settlement on their behalf.

Please review the list (below) to see if your name was included in one of the 12 appeals that were filed. If you did not give authorization to be included in an appeal, you can write to the court and ask that your name be removed.

If you write to the court, please indicate your name and the court file number which I have included at the end of each list of appellants.

The address for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is: James A. Byrne United States Courthouse, 601 Market St # 21400, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

If you have any questions, or concerns please feel free to contact me at jeffnixon@aol.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

                  Former Players Filing an Appeal of the NFL Concussion Settlement

Craig Heimburger; Dawn Heimburger, Appellants in 15-2206

Cleo Miller; Judson Flint; Elmer Underwood; Vincent Clark, Sr.; Ken Jones; Fred Smerlas; Jim Rourke; Lou Piccone; James David Wilkins, II; Robert Jackson, Appellants in 15-2217

Curtis L. Anderson, Appellant in 15-2230

Darren R. Carrington, Appellant in 15-2234

Raymond Armstrong; Nathaniel Newton, Jr.; Larry Brown; Kenneth Davis; Michael McGruder; Clifton L. Odom, George Teague; Drew Coleman; Dennis DeVaughn; Alvin Harper; Ernest Jones; Michael Kiselak; Jeremy Loyd; Gary Wayne Lewis; Lorenzo Lynch; Hurles Scales, Jr.; Gregory Evans; David Mims; Evan Ogelsby; Phillip E. Epps; Charles L. Haley, Sr.; Kevin Rey Smith; Darryl Gerard Lewis; Curtis Bernard Wilson; Kelvin Mack Edwards, Sr.; Dwayne Levels; Solomon Page; Tim McKyer; Larry Barnes; James Garth Jax; William B. Duff; Mary Hughes; Barbara Scheer, Appellants in 15-2272

Liyongo Patrise Alexander; Charlie Anderson; Charles E. Arbuckle; Cassandra Bailey, as Representative of the Estate of Johnny Bailey; Ben Bronson; Curtis Ceaser, Jr.; Larry Centers; Darrell Colbert; Harry Colon; Christopher Crooms; Jerry W. Davis; Tim Denton; Michael Dumas; Corris Ervin; Doak Field; Baldwin Malcolm Frank; Derrick Frazier; Murray E. Garrett; Clyde P. Glosson; Roderick W. Harris; Wilmer K. Hicks, Jr.; Patrick Jackson; Gary Jones; Ryan McCoy; Jerry James Moses, Jr.; Anthony E. Newsom; Rance Olison; John Owens; Robert Pollard; Derrick Pope; Glenell Sanders; Thomas Sanders; Dwight A. Scales; Todd Scott; Frankie Smith; Jermaine Smith, Tyrone Smith; James A. Young, Sr.,Appellants in 15-2273

Scott Gilchrist, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist, Appellant in 15-2290

Jimmie H. Jones; Ricky Ray; Jesse Solomon, Appellants in 15-2291

Andrew Stewart, Appellant in 15-2292

Willie T. Taylor, Appellant in 15-2294

Alan Faneca; Roderick "Rock" Cartwright; Jeff Rohrer; Sean Considine, Appellants in 15-2304

James Mayberry, Appellant in 15-2305

The NFL and Israel

From June 16th to the 23rd, nineteen members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame took a week-long tour of Israel in a historic trip called “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence.” You can check out some of the photos from the trip in the slideshow at the bottom of the page.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a champion of the NFL’s international efforts and sponsor of the Israeli Football League, stepped in to make the idea happen. The trip provided an opportunity for the players to see how football has grown in Israel and it gave them a chance to interact with residents and visit historic sites to learn more about the region’s history and meet the country’s current leaders.

“First of all, you have to thank Mr. Kraft for putting all of this together,” Paul Krause said. “What he did was absolutely unreal. He took care of everything. We had the best of everything, and then you go meet the Prime Minister Netanyahu. I think the world of him and what he’s doing. The Israeli Ambassador to the United States (Ron Dermer) was with us almost every day. They made you feel a part of that and welcomed us with open arms.”

The group visited places that they had read about in the Bible like Bethlehem, Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Masada and Capernaum.

The Minnesotta Viking website has an article about the groups experiences that you can read at this link: Hall of Famers Krause, Doleman Inspired by Israel visit. Here are some excerpts from the article:

“It’s back in Bible times, and everything you’ve read about, heard about, is true,” Krause said. “All of a sudden it comes to life.”

Chris Doleman immersed himself in the history of his Christian faith as one of the group members who was baptized in the Jordan River. Group members also floated in the Dead Sea, at the lowest elevation on earth (1,407 feet below sea level).

“If you’re a Christian and follow this and believe this, to actually put your hands on it and touch it and be a part of it, then take yourself back to what it was like to travel back then was awe-inspiring,” Doleman said.

Krause had previously been baptized and did not receive baptismal in the Jordan River, but he did observe a tight bond within the group follow. “The biggest thing I saw come out of that was the closeness of those 19 guys and families. You could just see the whole group came closer together, and that’s what we need,” Krause said. “I don’t care if your red, white, black or yellow, I saw the closeness mold everybody together, and that’s what the world needs. I don’t know if we’ll ever see it, but that’s what everybody should try to do.”

Krause and Doleman noted the proximity of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people living in the Old City of Jerusalem and the commitment that they have to their religions.

“Muslims and Jews and Christians, you’re able to tell what area of town you’re in if there’s a mosque, synagogue or cross,” Doleman said. “It changes quickly. I got a picture that has a mosque in the middle of it, and right behind the mosque, there’s a cross.”

Added Krause: “They’re not bothering anybody and they live together. The Palestinians weren’t in there, but it really brought to light that there’s something better if people can work together and live together. I really enjoyed my time there. I met some great people.”

Former Broncos running back Floyd Little said “It was something we wanted to do it, it was on our bucket list to see what it’s really like, and actually walk in the Bible. You don’t realize it, but you’re walking in the Bible. The experience for us was enlightening, it was totally renewing our beliefs and who we are and what we are, our faith.”

Little was one of several of the men re-baptized in the River Jordan, an emotional experience.

“They say one picture is like 1,000 words? There are no words to describe what it’s like to be baptized in the River Jordan,” Little said. “It was just unbelievable.”

Former Bills running back Thurman Thomas and his wife were also baptized, but the couple were so enamored of the trip that they have decided to return with their four children. Because of that, they didn’t visit every attraction, such as Bethlehem and the Dead Sea, wanting to experience those for the first time with the rest of their family.

The group toured Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, visited Israel’s Hatzor Air Force Base, took a late night tour of the Western Wall tunnels, and visited Kfar Saba Stadium, where they supported football scrimmages, and Kraft Stadium, which was built by the Patriots Owner. 

Mike Haynes, one of five Hall of Fame players with Patriot ties, floated the idea of returning to hold clinics to continue to try to grow the game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someday in the not too distant future, the NFL has a team based in Israel. And what would their team name be? How about the “Bethlehem Stars”?

The following 19 Pro Football Hall of Fame members took part in “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence.”

• Raymond Berry – Class of 1973 – End – 1955-1967 Baltimore Colts

• Mel Blount – Class of 1989 – Cornerback – 1970-1983 Pittsburgh Steelers

• Tim Brown – Class of 2015 – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

• Curley Culp – Class of 2013 – Defensive Tackle – 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs, 1974-1980 Houston Oilers, 1980-81 Detroit Lions

• Chris Doleman – Class of 2012 – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers

• John Hannah – Class of 1991 – Guard – 1973-1985 New England Patriots

• Mike Haynes – Class of 1997 – 1976-1982 New England Patriots, 1983-1989 Los Angeles Raiders

• Ken Houston – Class of 1986 – Strong Safety – 1967-1972 Houston Oilers, 1973-1980 Washington Redskins

• Paul Krause – Class of 1998 – Safety – 1964-1967 Washington Redskins, 1968-1979 Minnesota Vikings

• Floyd Little – Class of 2010 – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos

• Tom Mack – Class of 1999 – Guard – 1966-1978 Los Angeles Rams

• Curtis Martin – Class of 2012 – Running Back – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets

• Ron Mix – Class of 1979 – Offensive Tackle – 1960-1969 Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers, 1971 Oakland Raiders

• Jim Taylor – Class of 1976 – Fullback – 1958-1966 Green Bay Packers, 1967 New Orleans Saints

• Thurman Thomas – Class of 2007 – Running Back – 1988-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Miami Dolphins

• Andre Tippett – Class of 2008 – Linebacker – 1982-1993 New England Patriots

• Roger Wehrli – Class of 2007 – Cornerback – 1969-1982 St. Louis Cardinals

• Rayfield Wright – Class of 2006 – Tackle – 1967-1979 Dallas Cowboys

• Jack Youngblood – Class of 2001 – Defensive End – 1971-1984 Los Angeles Rams

And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Gen. 12:2-3

Slideshow: Pro Football Hall of Fame players in the Holy Land


Conrad Dobler: I don't care what they call him

Here’s a link to a good article about one of my former teammates, Conrad Dobler - 2015 NFL Countdown: The History of Cardinals Jersey Number 66.

Excerpt from the article: “When it came to protecting his quarterback no matter what, Conrad Dobler (1973-1977) deserves the highest acclaim allowable — 'Elite' even. And if 'no matter what' happened to be shall we say 'outside the box', then 'so be it' was Conrad's motto because nobody was getting to the quarterback on his watch.”

In the online poll asking fans who they think is the greatest Cardinal player to wear number 66. Conrad is crushing the competition.

The Cardinals offensive line allowed only 7 sacks the entire 1975 season, tying them with the 1988 Miami Dolphins for fewest sacks allowed by a team in a season.

When Conrad came to the Buffalo Bills for his last two seasons in the NFL, the O-line gave up only 20 sacks in 1980 and 16 sacks in 1981. Those are still team records for the Buffalo Bills and one of the main reasons we went to the playoffs in both of those seasons.

I played for the Buffalo Bills during Conrad’s final two years in the NFL and I will never forget watching him get his battle scarred knees ready for a game. He had true grit and he constantly challenged the O-Line to do whatever it took to make sure our Quarterback, Joe Ferguson, was not laying on his back at the end of a play. 

Conrad put a world of hurt on his opponents - and yes he had a few incidents that were outside the rules - but like a lot of players during our generation, he played hurt almost all the time and sacrificed his body for his band of brothers. 

There are a few Quarterbacks out there that will never forget what he did to make their lives a little safer in the pocket.   

Conrad wrote a book entitled “They Call Me Dirty”

I don’t care what they call him………I call him a winner!

NFL Pension Plan update

Any former player that is vested in the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan recently received an Annual Funding Notice. One year ago, I wrote an article about the status of our Pension Plan. 

At the time I wrote the article, our Pension Plan was identified as being in the “endangered” status. Unfortunately, in the most recent notice, it is still listed as endangered. In other words, the Assets (money invested in the Plan) are not enough to pay the Liabilities (current and future payments to vested players). 

According to the Notice, the Plan is underfunded by $1,339,162,880. That's over a Billion dollars!  

Pension law requires that every plan have a procedure for establishing a funding policy to carry out the plan objectives. The most important objective is to make sure the assets needed to pay for the benefits are sufficient to pay both current retirees and future retirees when they eventually tap into their pension.

The NFL owners are required to make contributions to the plan that are determined to be “actuarially” necessary under assumptions and methods set forth in the CBA. Nonetheless, they have been getting away with underfunding the pension plan for quite some time now. 

Owner payments to the Pension Plan will need to increase dramatically due to the pension increases negotiated in the 2011 CBA and the fact that players - since 1993 - only need three years to become vested in the pension plan.

The pension plan will be increased three (3) times during the current CBA. It will go from $470 a credited season to:

$560     2012 through 2014

$660     2015 through 2017

$760     2018 through 2020

Meanwhile, thousands of pre-1993 players are still receiving $255 per credited season - plus the additional $108 or $124 per credited season under the Legacy Benefit for a grand total of $363 or $379 per credited season.

It’s no wonder the wives of Hall of Fame players have written a letter  to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith asking them to work together to increase pensions for the pioneer players of the NFL.

There is general consensus among former players that the Legacy Benefit did not go far enough in addressing the inequality between pre-1993 player and post-1993 player pensions. The inequality gap has widened considerably since the signing of the 2011 CBA.

Although we would like to see another increase in the pre-1993 pensions, it is also important that the owners address the 1.3 + Billion shortfall in the current plan.

According to the Notice, the money needed to pay all current and projected benefits is $2,945,728,870, but the current value of assets is only $1,606,565,990. Those assets have been invested in a number of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, treasury notes, hedge funds, private equity, cash and real estate. If you want to see how they have performed in the first quarter of 2015, you can click on the following link: Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan - 1Q 2015 Plan Review 

You can also see the NFL Retirement Board’s Form 5500 here which details the assets and liabilities and includes the annual payments made to groups managing the Retirement fund, investment companies, lawyers, retirement board staff and other individuals.

Pension Plans are considered in “endangered” status if the funded percentage falls below 80% and in “critical” status if the funded percentage falls below 65%. Right now, our Plan is at 54.5% which should put the plan in critical status, but the Notice says that the “fair market value’ of the assets gives a clearer picture of a plan’s funded status, so apparently by using that method, the Plan is just above the 65% threshold.

Here are the past five year's funded percentages:   

2010  

77.4%

2011 

64.5%

2012

51.7%

2013 

48.4%

2014 

54.5%

Anytime the Pension Plan is in endangered status, the trustees of the plan are required to adopt a funding improvement plan that establishes steps and benchmarks for pension plans to improve their funding status over a specified period of time.

Robert Smith, Jeff Van Note and Sam McCullum are the retired player trustees of the Retirement Board. The Retirement Board also has three NFL appointed trustees. The full Board adopted a FIP (Funding Improvement Plan) on February 23, 2011 and recently updated that plan on May 14, 2015. Here is a link to the Improvement Plan: FIP - Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle 

According to the FIP, the owners are scheduled to make additional contributions that will get the funding percentage up to 80% by 2020.

I hope the former players on the Retirement Board will hold the owners accountable for those contributions.

We will be watching!