Today, we’re talking about overcoming adversity, finding the path to healing, and the importance of self-care.

In this episode of Change It Up Radio, I am joined by former NFL middle linebacker Gary Plummer, who played for the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers. We discuss the physical, mental, and emotional toll that his time in the NFL took on him, including his experience with early-onset dementia, as well as the high price he paid for greatness.

Gary shares stories from his time in the NFL, the attitude toward injuries and the pressure to play through pain, and the long-term physical and mental health consequences for football players. He emphasizes the need for players to be more open about their physical and emotional pain and seek help when needed, as well as the important role that supportive friends and family can play in their lives.

Gary also highlights the importance of taking small steps towards healing, whether through yoga, gratitude walks, or other activities that bring joy and peace, taking care of one’s body through proper nutrition and exercise, and how these practices can help in mitigating the damage caused by brain injuries as well. Finally, he expresses hope that his story can help others understand the risks associated with professional sports and the importance of self-care and being of service to others.

Some key topic points covered in this episode include:

  • The invincible mindset that professional athletes often adopt and how it can negatively impact their decision-making
  • The evolving knowledge and understanding of the long-term effects of concussions
  • The importance of nutrition and physical fitness in recovering from the damage caused by concussions
  • The importance of seeking help and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, especially for men in traditionally “macho” roles
  • The power of taking small steps towards healing and finding the right activity for oneself
  • The importance of being of service and giving back to others

About Gary Plummer:

Gary Plummer was born and raised in Fremont, California. College walk-on at U.C. Berkeley, graduating with a degree in Nutrition.

From 1983-1985, he was the all-time leading tackler for the Oakland Invaders of the U.S.F.L. He was an undrafted free agent for the San Diego Chargers, accumulating over 800 tackles from 1986 to 1993.

Gary became a free agent and joined the San Francisco 49ers from 1994 to 1997, where he earned a Super Bowl ring in Super Bowl XXIX.

He was one of the defensive captains for the number-one defense in the NFL in 1995 and 1997. The 49ers reached the playoffs all four of his years on the team, including two NFC Championship games. Gary was named as one of the all-time best free agency acquisitions in the 49ers’ history.

He was selected by Muscle & Fitness Magazine to the NFL’s most-fit athletes 5 years in a row. Following his career as an NFL player, he went on to be a color analyst for both the NFL and College for 13 years.

Gary dedicates much of his time to charitable efforts and is responsible for raising over 10 Million dollars for various non-profit organizations. He regularly donates his time to motivational speeches, with a focus on at-risk youth.  

Check out the video below to watch our interview:

Resources Mentioned:

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