THE SHARON AND WAYNE HAWKINS STORY
THE HAWKINS LEFT WITH DIFFICULT DECISIONS BY WELL-INTENTIONED 88 PLAN,
DO THEY DIVORCE IN ORDER TO QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS?
SHARON HAWKINS IS INSTRUMENTAL TO CREATION OF "DIGNITY AFTER FOOTBALL" (DAF) AND IS AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL, PLEASE READ HER STORY AND TAKE SOMETHING FROM WAYNE, SHARON, AND THEIR FAMILY'S COURAGE AND INTEGRITY
MORE TO COME
Please read this heartbreaking tue story, from Sharon Hawkins, on behalf of herself, her husband ( who suffers from dementia) and from their entire loving family, as told to "DIGNITY AFTER FOOTBALL":
Wayne experienced approximately 3 to 4 concussions per season over a period of participating in football in high school, college and professional football.
One concussion took place in 1963 in a Raider VS Kansas City, in Kansas City. He he sustained a Class III traumatic brain injury. He was rushed to a hospital, slipped into a 12+ hour coma and awakened not knowing any personal information. A few hours later he was deemed fine. He flew to Oakland, saw a Neurologist and was told he could play the following weekend in Denver. During the first half of that game, he sustained a concussion, and yet played the second half.
In 1963, during the San Diego Chargers VS Raider game in Oakland, Ernie Ladd shoved Wayne’s mask into the goal post. Wayne was dizzy and continued to play the entire game. He complained of a toothache all evening. He saw his dentist on Monday where X-rays showed his jaw was broken from end to end. His teeth were wired together with a space in front for a straw. He continued to play with his jaw wired for several weeks of the season. A wicked hit to the jaw is one of the most dangerous as it affects the base of the brain and Temporal Lobes.
In 1999 our family and friends noticed Wayne’s obvious short-term-memory loss. After being “let go” from a variety of positions over a period of 6-years, I requested Wayne’s doctor send him to have a brain scan. The scan proved there was vascular damage and a lot of ‘white matter”.
By 2005 it was obvious Wayne was suffering from an increasing short term memory loss and some confusion about basic daily activities. At this time he suffered a devastating fall on ice. He landed on his back, broke ribs and his head hit the concrete creating a “brain whip-lash”. For over 20 minutes he was unconscious. This accident put him in the hospital for 7 days. He has never recovered from this, (TBI), traumatic brain injury . His Neurologists say he had another Class III brain injury. This accident was the “capper” as TBIs cause cumulative brain damage.
It thrust Wayne into daily confusion, a memory that is severely compromised, two strokes in his Frontal Lobe, the loss of self control and most executive and organizational skills. He has become lost while walking and driving, he lost credit cards, his NFL Championship ring, and is unable to work the TV remote and a cellular phone. The CT-Metabolic Brain scan determined he has early onset AD as well as vascular dementia. He is unemployable.
The NFL Disability Office was rude when I asked for the application for additional disability. I was told ,“He is too old to receive further assistance. He has been out of football too long”. Although his Neurologists stated his history of multiple concussions or traumatic brain injuries, caused his mental disability, the disability board ignored me.
Dee Becker, Player Assistance Trust administrator, called me in December of ‘06. She said the disability board has created the 88 Plan for players diagnosed with dementia. She recommended I apply. I applied in March and was accepted by the 88 Plan by May 15th of ‘07. This is a reimbursement plan. The way it works, to my knowledge, a football couple purchases dementia medications, then copies the receipts, mails the originals to the NFL Disability Board. The Board copies the receipts, sends them to Cigna HealthCare and the money is sent to the Disability Board and finally a check is sent to us. All this red tape is silly. Our monthly medications receipts for Wayne are $40.00 since Wayne has Plan D coverage with Humana.
When Dee Becker described the 88 Plan, she stated that the total for in home care would be a limit of $55,00 per year. I was delighted to hear this as I misinterpreted her remark and I thought we wives, who care for our mentally challenged husbands, would receive 1/12 th of that each month. Then I found out only a third party will be compensated for in-home care, not a relative. At that point, I actually thought, I should file for a 6-week quick divorce from Wayne and then I would be “a third party”, thus receiving payment for my daily care taking of Wayne. A very desperate idea. Most people know Nevada is a state where quick divorces are legal and common.
Since I work full-time as an artist, painting murals, faux finishes, frescoes in casinos, restaurants, boutiques, and residences, my income is uneven. I return home at lunch to prepare Wayne’s lunch, take him to doctor appointments, dispense his pills and handle the usual household duties. My days are long. He doesn’t want another person in our house. He also thinks he does not require extra assistance. This is not the case, believe me!
All we want is disability payments that equal the Major League Baseball’s Disability Plan. The NFL owners are making a tremendous amount of money and we believe we are due our share.
Sharon Hawkins, left, with Gina Boyd, both residents of Reno NV
with their NFL-disabled husbands