MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Sixty-five year old Ed Newman feels he is still sharp as a tack. He must be as a Miami-Dade County court judge.
Newman still carries the bullish physique he had 44 years ago as a Miami Dolphin offensive lineman.
Back then, he admired veteran teammates like Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick.
Now, their mental and physical declines have Newman wondering how he would handle being in those shoes.
“My greatest fear would be the burden I would put on my family,” said Newman.
Newman has remained connected to the Dolphins through alumni functions and on game days. It was there that he first noticed a change in Kiick.
“With Jim I saw progression. He became soft-spoken. He was always very friendly. Then I saw that he was having trouble getting to the stadium,” said Newman.
The troubles for Nick Buoniconti seem more severe. Recent video showed the iconic Dolphin player, now 76, forgetting how to put on a T-shirt. It’s something that saddened fellow Hall of Famer Larry Little who is just five years younger than Buoniconti.
“You always wonder. It has to be at the back of my mind. Will it happen to me one day? Right now, I think I’m okay but I don’t know,” said Little.
Eight members of the famed 1972 Dolphins have been identified as having cognitive issues. Earl Morrall, who died three years ago, was posthumously diagnosed with CTE – the brain disease linked to repeated football concussions.
“I tried to see Earl over in Naples and his wife wouldn’t let me see him and I couldn’t know why and she said I didn’t want you to see him in this kind of condition he’s in. Now that, it did affect him,” said Mercury Morris.
Morris has helped make sure his former backfield mate Jim Kiick gets proper care.
At age seventy, Morris still hits the gym. He still considers the ’72 team to be lucky.
“We have been. We have been. The Steelers, they’ve lost 20 guys out of their championship teams and I think we’ve lost 8 or 9 guys but over the years, that’s to be expected,” said Morris.
For each man, the question of whether football has sped up their biological clocks remains a mystery, but to Larry Little, the message is clear.
“We are not immortal. You would like to think you are sometimes but we are not immortal. We’re humans just like everyone else,” said Little.
“I consciously hate aging and death and disorder and all that stuff, it’s all part of it, but be that as it may you gotta keep on plugging,” said Newman.