There’s a heartbreaking story in the New York Times today about two former Chargers: tight end John Mackey and offensive lineman Ralph Wenzel, who both suffer from dementia that their families trace back to their playing days.

The two don’t remember playing with each other. Their wives, however, have bonded over the shared affliction. Reporter Alan Schwarz writes:

They played together on the 1972 Chargers, even blocking on the same offensive line, but neither has any memory of it. Neither remembers playing for the Chargers at all.

Even after spending two hours together, and being reintroduced several times, neither man knew the other’s name.

“Do you remember playing with Ralph at all, John?” Mr. Mackey was asked.

“Who’s Ralph?” Mr. Mackey replied.

“The guy sitting to your left.”

“You’re Ralph?” he asked Mr. Wenzel.


“I’m John Mackey,” he declared, staring blankly ahead.


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