More than 70 retired NFL players are expected on the UCF campus Saturday for the NFL Players Association Pro Bowl Health Symposium, a day-long event that starts with private health screenings for the players and ends with a wide-ranging athletes’ health symposium that is open to the public.
The symposium will be held at UCF’s Psychology Building, 4111 Pictor Lane, starting at 1 p.m. and features Dr. Archie Roberts, a former player with the 1967 Miami Dolphins, and now chairman and president of the Living Heart Foundation. Roberts has treated retired NFL players for the past 14 years through his foundation, which helps retired athletes maintain their health. His foundation also is conducting the health screenings earlier Saturday for players.
Another speaker is attorney Christopher Seeger, who served as the chief negotiator in the NFL concussion-injury lawsuit, where he successfully represented thousands of retired NFL players suffering from brain-related injuries as a result of their NFL careers.
Some of the players coming include Steve Pisarkiewicz, former quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers; Don Nottingham, former running back for the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins; Bill Riehl, former cornerback for the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers; and Mike McBath, former player for the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to reach out to our players, and also make it something special and informative for the public,” said Roberts, who has worked for two decades with the NFL, doctors, hospitals and other health organizations on retired players’ health.
Other speakers include UCF President John C. Hitt, who will offer the opening remarks; Nichole Lighthall, UCF assistant professor of psychology, a cognitive psychologist who studies the aging brain; and Megan Sherod, a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who directs the UCF Psychology Clinic and is an expert on brain trauma.
The symposium will be of particular interest to trainers, coaches, athletic directors, athletes and sports enthusiasts to get a better understanding of health issues affecting athletes as they age, the cause and effects of concussions and the testing and treatment following these injuries.
Lighthall, who organized the symposium for UCF, said it is a great opportunity for the public to understand a number of health issues affecting athletes from high school to old age.
“Many football players have questions about how they should deal with health conditions related to their sport and what’s being done to reduce harm in younger players,” Lighthall said. “This event is one of those rare moments when scientists, clinicians and industry partners can answer their questions directly – and open a dialogue with players and the public about issues that still need to be addressed.”
The event is a partnership between the players association and NFL Players Association Athletes’ Foundation, Athlete’s Health, the Living Heart Foundation, the University of Central Florida and Hitachi Health Care America. The symposium is dedicated to the life and memory of Katie Elizabeth Keogh, daughter of event organizer Michael Keogh, who died in an accident recently.
Parking for the event is free in Parking Garage H.
The Pro Bowl will be played at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.