"Rosenfeld was a sports-medicine institution in Los Angeles and in the country," Huizenga says. "And he was Al Davis's closest confidant. Rosenfeld understood perhaps best of all what Davis meant when he said, 'Just win, baby!' It meant. Do whatever it takes."
And that, Huizenga says, is what led Rosenfeld to give players diagnoses that he knew were incorrect and then pressure players into accepting those diagnoses. Injured Raiders were also discouraged from seeking second opinions and wound up playing when their bodies were screaming for treatment and rest. In his book Huizenga calls Rosenfeld a "horror surgeon" and blames Davis for abusing the trust that players placed in him.
Not everyone from those Raider days agrees with Huizenga. "I think it's wrong to attack another doctor who is now gone," says Flores, who says he hasn't read Huizenga's book and is unaware of any other charges of mistreatment regarding Marsh. "Dr. Rosenfeld was a friend; we obviously trusted him because he was with us so long." As a player, Flores was never treated by Rosenfeld.
For his part, Marsh points no fingers and has never seriously considered filing suit against the Raiders. He says he blames himself for buying into the notion of a Raider family and for believing that the team would safeguard his health. "The bottom line is, I should have gotten a second opinion," Marsh says. "But I trusted the Raiders. I did what the team wanted me to do. I played with injuries. And everyone encouraged me."
Marsh also blames himself for agreeing to an incentive clause in his 1986 contract that would pay him an extra $20,000 if he remained healthy through the first three games of the season. As it turned out, by the second game of the season, some six weeks after he injured his right ankle, it was clear that Marsh wasn't going to make Game 3. At Rosenfeld's suggestion, he says, he had been taking painkilling injections for the ankle since midway through training camp. "He'd shoot me before major practices and before the games," Marsh says. "I couldn't feel a thing. But afterward the pain in my ankle was unbelievable. I was in total agony until we'd shoot it up again."
During the second game of the 1986 season, against the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium, Marsh twisted his left knee and dislocated a finger. He begged the trainer not to tell Davis about the knee, figuring he could limp through another week and collect the bonus. But the coaches saw that Marsh was hobbling, and he was moved to injured reserve. Looking back, Marsh says the $20,000 was important to him, but he was also afraid of angering Davis by asking to see a doctor other than Rosenfeld.
"Most of the players were terrified of doing anything to upset Al Davis," Huizenga says. "I didn't realize until I resigned that they didn't even feel they could come to me with their medical problems because I was his doctor."
"You have to remember that before 1982, we were forbidden by the league to get a second opinion," Millen says. Once the rule was changed, he adds, and teams were obligated to pay for second opinions, "everyone was afraid of doing it."
After the 1986 season Rosenfeld operated twice on Marsh's ankle to remove bone chips, but he never ordered tests that might have revealed why the bone chips were there. Huizenga says that Rosenfeld continued to maintain that the injury was a ligament strain.
Marsh's ankle still bothered him during that off-season, but by altering his workouts, he was able to stay off it for most of the summer. By the time camp began in August 1987, Marsh felt ready to play. But his efforts would be for nothing. During the third day of camp, the pain in the ankle flared anew. After Rosenfeld again prescribed painkilling shots and repeated his contention that the pain was because of a strained ligament, Marsh decided he'd had enough. He sought a second opinion. "Rosenfeld went nuts," Marsh says. "He said the outside surgeons would only recommend surgery because they wanted to operate on a Raider."