Former Great Bay Packer Craig Newsome offered insight into the painful retirement of an NFL player in an interview this weekend in the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The story is about the Super Bowl winner’s struggle with an excruciating back injury and pain; addiction to prescription painkillers; depression; hopelessness; and finally a personal comeback.
Newsome, who had lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a few years, is now residing in his wife’s hometown of Holmen, Wis., with his family.
Now 40, Newsome had his triumphs during his NFL career. He was an aggressive player who showed no mercy against his opponents. And he suffered his own injuries, with so many scars that it prompted writer Tyler Dunne to call the player’s body “a tour of pain.”
Newsome retired from football in 1999 after he broke his back, and that’s when his troubles began. He became addicted to the drugs, such as Lortab, that he took to ease his pain. He told the Journal Sentinel that he was consumed with finding different doctors who would give him prescriptions for his drugs.
Amidst all this, and after several unsuccessful back surgeries, he had to fight the NFL in order to collect disability payments, the Milwaukee paper reported.
In 2000, Newsome pleaded guilty to two drug charges, including obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. He went into rehab in Kansas, but it didn’t solve his addiction problem. He was living in Scottsdale.
He was clinically depressed, and ignored his family and his wife, according to the Journal Sentinel. Then they all moved to Wisconsin, and Newsome began to turn around his life.
Newsome has been coaching at Holmen High School, and last year he had surgery to implant a pain pump. His wife Tara expressed concern about that pump, which “flows material into his spinal and brain fluid that could affect his memory 10, 20, 30 years down the road,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Apparently, that pump isn’t normally given to someone as young as Newsome. But he needed it to deal with his back pain.
One thing really disturbed me about Newsome. In the story, he described watching his 13-year-old son Craig Jr. tackle a kid during a Pop Warner game, knocking that player out.
“I said, ‘Ahh, great tackle!'” Newsome told the Journal Sentinel. “I got all pumped up….”
After all the press about the damage concussions do to young kids, as well as NFL players, Newsome is cheering his son on knocking an opponent unconscious?