100% of the book royalties will be donated to the Golden Heart Fund.
A team is the heartbeat of its community. It extends beyond the players on the field and brings people from all walks of life together. The San Francisco 49ers have been the heartbeat of the Bay Area community for decades. They have lifted our community through triumph and adversity, forging memories that impact a lifetime. Being a part of the team means picking one another up and being a hero for those who have served as heroes before us.
The Golden Heart Fund is the team that provides support and relief to 49ers alumni in times of physical, emotional, and financial need. Established in 2016 by former 49ers greats, the fund draws on the support of the community they once served and their 49ers brotherhood, past and present, to help them find a path back to good health and employment. The goal is to walk alongside every player who has taken to the field in the red and gold, especially for those who have found difficulty in the years following retirement.
The average NFL career lasts roughly three years. The abrupt transition into the workforce and life away from football introduces unique challenges for many retired NFL athletes, such as struggles with depression, the aftermath of physical injuries, challenges to their self-identity, and often financial burdens. While these players competed at the highest level, continually putting their bodies on the line, they also devoted their time to serving local youth and families in need, seeking opportunities to be good stewards of their community. Pro football players often leave the NFL without many of the tools necessary to transition away from the game, not to mention potential lingering or developing health issues sustained during their career.
The New York Times estimated in 2014 that one in three players can expect to develop long-term cognitive problems after their careers end. A 2009 Sports Illustrated study found that 78 percent of NFL players experience financial hardship within two years of retiring from the league. Whether they played for two years or twenty years, the Golden Heart Fund works to assist retired 49ers alumni in the transitional process overcome these obstacles by providing the education and employment resources, as well as the physical, emotional, and financial support they may need.
When 49ers legend Dwight Clark was diagnosed with ALS, the Golden Heart Fund was there to battle it with him. The fans, players, owners, reporters, friends, and family all came together to support one of their own, and they will continue to do so by donating the royalties from this book to the Golden Heart Fund in honor of Dwight.
Our heroes on the field lift us up and bring us together, and by lifting them up in return, we continue to build the bonds that make the 49ers family strong.