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At age 84, Joe Perry, the first African-American to play for the 49ers and one of the most dominant running backs of his era. Plucked in 1948 from the Alameda Naval Air Station, where he was relatively new to the game, the Jet—named such for his quick starts—played 16 pro seasons before retiring in '63 as the NFL's career rushing leader, with 9,723 yards. Perry (above) led San Francisco in rushing eight times and, in 1953 and '54, became the first NFL rusher with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Among the 14 team records that he set, those for career rushing yards (7,344) and touchdowns (50, since tied by Roger Craig) still stand. Impressively, much of that work came while sharing the load. In '69, Perry was the first of four 49ers backs from the 1950s to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
By the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine, the results of an examination of the brain of Dave Duerson, which determined that the former NFL safety had the brain disorder CTE when he committed suicide in February. The BU center's study, released on Monday, adds Duerson's name to the list of more than 20 deceased former NFL players found to have had the disorder, which is associated with repeated hits to the head, when they died. Researchers, however, have yet to determine whether CTE influences suicide. In the case of Duerson, who played for three teams over 11 years, and who requested in a suicide note that his brain be studied, family and financial woes are suggested to have been contributing factors in the act.
At age 79, Alice Ward, whose tough love and management of her sons, Boston-area boxers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, inspired the character for which actress Melissa Leo won a 2010 Best Supporting Actress Oscar in the Best Picture--nominated movie The Fighter. The mother of seven daughters and two sons was hospitalized in January—a week before Leo won a Golden Globe for the role—when she suffered a heart attack and a stroke and was pronounced dead for some 45 minutes before being revived. Ward had remained under a doctor's care in Boston, but last week she slipped into a coma, and on Tuesday was taken off life support.
From calling any of the Triple Crown races in 2011, NBC Sports broadcaster Tom Durkin, who spent more than two decades as the voice of American horse racing, but who said last week that his mental health was more important than continuing that tradition. Since 1984, Durkin's narrations have been synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. But, Durkin says, six years ago he began developing debilitating anxiety every time the Derby rolled around. Despite attempting treatment through diet, exercise and even hypnosis, Durkin says the buildup has continued to bring nightmares in which he is incapable of calling the race. Having spent the past year reflecting on his anxiety, the 60-year-old decided not to renew his contract with NBC Sports.
Last Friday, in the middle of the NFL draft (page 42), hours after players had reported to work for the first time in seven weeks, the NFL lockout, following a ruling in the league's favor by an appeals court. The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to decide this week whether to extend the league's stay of the injunction. That process could take six to eight weeks.