Joe Jacoby, four-time All Pro offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins, knows that with his family’s medical history, every day is precious, particularly now.
“Both of my parents died in their 50s,” he said. “I’m 52.”
His father died of heart disease, his mother from a hypertension-related aneurysm. So, for him, monitoring his health is paramount.
Jacoby, who helped lead the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories, was one of 24 former National Football League players who were screened, poked and prodded for a variety of ailments at Howard University Hospital Saturday as part of an effort to encourage the public to better monitor its health.
“This is not just about football players,” said Jacoby, who has Type II diabetes. “This is about the whole population. If we want to live productive and healthy lives, we have to take care of our bodies.”
Dr. Babafemi Adenuga, chair of the hospital’s Department of Community and Family Medicine, teamed with Dr. Shelly McDonald-Pinkett, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and Dr. Andre Duerinckx, chair of the Department of Radiology.
The hospital partnered with The Living Heart Foundation, an association founded by a former NFL player to tackle cardiovascular disease, NFL Players Care Foundation and the American Urological Association Foundation to provide the men free medical examinations.
The players, who represented all positions and nearly every team, included Redskins greats punter Mike Bragg, offensive guard Fred Dean and Mark Mosley, the only NFL placekicker to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
The men received a series of cardiovascular screenings for assessing risk for coronary artery disease. Other tests were cholesterol and triglycerides screening, extensive blood testing, blood pressure and pulse analysis, body composition measurements, prostate exams and joint health assessment.
Moseley, a three-time All Pro and the Redskins all-time leading scorer, said he works hard to keep his body fit, particularly in light of his Type II diabetes.
“It’s a battle,” said Moseley, who is 63 but looks 10 years younger, “but I take great pride in taking care of my body. I run seven miles every morning. I do 400 push-ups and 400 sit ups every day.”
Moseley, who led the league in scoring four times, is part owner of Five Guys burgers and works on his Shenandoah Valley farm raising horses and cattle. He said that helps keep him fit, but most important is to have regular checkups.
“I visit my physician at least once a year,” he said.
Dean, a diabetic, said he has attended the funerals of at least eight classmates from his Gainesville, Fla., high school who died from diseases that might have been prevented or better managed if his friends had been tested and treated earlier.
“And these are people who are my age, 56,” said Dean, who now works at Howard University’s Office of Residence Life. “That’s why I get all the checkups that I should.
My friends tease me that I’m always going to the doctor, but I don’t care.
“It’s important, and I see so many people who have problems because they didn’t get regular checkups.”
Bragg, 64, a financial planner, said his appreciation for getting tested regularly has also grown as he’s watched friends succumb to diseases that might have been avoided if detected and treated earlier.
“I have a friend who had a mini stroke right before we were going to play golf,” said Bragg, who, along with Dean, Moseley and Jacoby, was voted as one of the ‘70 greatest Redskins players.’ “I have another friend who had to have two valves replaced in his heart.
“If you know the things you need to know, and you do the things you need to do, you can have a good quality of life. And that’s what it’s all about, “quality of life.”