George Sauer, Jr. in the New York Times

autographed 1967 topps george sauer
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Famed New York Jets wide receiver, George Sauer, Jr., passed away this past Spring from congestive heart failure, and after dealing with complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.  At the time of his death, stories circulated about some of Sauer’s eccentricities, and how he had become disgruntled with professional football, which contributed to his early retirement from the game.

This week the New York Times published an in-depth article on Sauer, which dealt mostly with his life post-football.  The article painted the picture of a man who, sadly, never seemed to be comfortable with life.  He had a series of failed marriages, an unsteady employment history, and a disdain for the sport that at one time had made him famous.

While the authors did not connect Sauer’s Alzheimer’s or social dysfunction directly to football, his story seemed to have unfortunate similarities to several of the other former football players who have suffered from post-football brain injuries.  These once-vibrant and intelligent men gradually withdrew into themselves, and experienced increasing individual and social difficulties.

You can read the New York Times article HERE.

Todd Tobias (775 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.



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4 Responses to George Sauer, Jr. in the New York Times

  1. John Spoulos says:

    Interesting story on the mental state of football players. I once did an interview with hall of fame Eagles center Alex Wojciechowicz here in NJ. He told me that though he was a great player, if he had to do it over, he would not have played in the NFL. He was a member of the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham University and played with Vince Lombardi on that team. During our interview, we had to reschedule it because Alex was so overwhelmed by arthritis that he had trouble getting out of bed. All due to his NFL career. In conclusion, he didn’t seem angry at the game, but you could read his face that he wished he maybe had not played pro football.

  2. 1967 says:

    This story about George Sauer Jr. reminded me about another former pro football (AFL) player who walked away from the game, seemingly before his time: Ralph ‘Chip’ Oliver of the Raiders, 1970 (article link below)

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1243&dat=19700512&id=tABYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=E_cDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6242,4874097

    Sauer, Oliver and a guy who made it a career / stayed seven years, NFL LB Dave Meggyesy (the author of ‘Out of Their League’) were among others/a select few those who dared question football convention of the day, at least aft departing it, guys who apparently really didn’t enjoy football that much, and in their cases.

    Too, I think of Joe Don Looney, who perhaps wasn’t so eccentric after all…

  3. T lilljedahl says:

    I have posted here before about George. I roomed with Pete lammons at U of Texas.
    George was two years ahead of me. Their is no question he had great intellectual abilities.
    He thought thoughts that no other guys thought. . He was very kind to me, an underclassman that played his position.
    He also had a Fender electric guitar and when he cranked it up he could rattle my dorm room which was right above him. Before he left for the Jets , he had quite the team to work on his grades.
    The story goes that he had made a B in a subject and it was his first grade lower than an A.
    Don’t know how true the story was but that was the roomer.
    Coach Royal convinced him to return.
    Looking back, I think he was in a world of his on.

  4. Tom says:

    Todd,

    Thank you for sharing this I was playing football in college at the time and read the books 1967 mentions including Bernie Parrishs’ “They call It A Game”, Gary Shaws'”Meat on The Hoof Inside Texas football” Meggyesy’s Out Of Their League and Jim Boutons’ Ball Four and all had a certain appeal and made me relize that I wasn’t alone with some of my thoughts and feelings. I recall our head coach during a meeting discussing some of the books and dismissing the authors as second rate talent, and left us with the thought that they wrote the books out of spite to cover up their inferior playing ability, as good or great players would never attack such a great sport and write such negative stuff.
    In Herb Gluck’s book “While the Gettin’s Good” Inside the World Football League (Gluck was the Ticket Manager for the NY Stars.) he writes’ a bit about many players including the day John Carlos was cut on same day he returned a kickoff in the Stars intra squad scrimmage 100 yards for a td running untouched. It was said the reason may have been that an assistant coach thought Carlos called him a chicken s..t. The book gives insight into Sauers’ uniqueness and includes a photo of Sauer during a game sitting on the bench along side Al Barnes and neither man looks at all happy in fact they look disgusted.

    He writes of Sauers’ friendship with Gary Danielson and of Sauers’ love of literature, how he would sit for hours and read poetry and on bus trips he woul work on The Sunday NY Times Crossword puzzle. Gluck mentions Sauers’ library that included Camus, Blake, Sarte, Fielding, Spinoza and hundreds of others he had read. This was during a period when the Bengals filed a court injunction to prevent Bill Bergey from jumping to the WFL. The injunction was denied as ” It would cause harm to the concept of establishing free competition in the market place for the sports dollar”. And in April of 1974 the NFL Players Association President Bill Curry during CBA negotiations told reporters that their demands were met by owners, as anarchistic, destructive, ridiculous nd so on and those were the nicer remarks.
    Life is timing and those were the times Sauer lived and played and like one of his favored novels Charles Dickens Oliver Twist, Sauer found himself in place like Oliver asking “Please sir I want some more.”

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