NFL Locks Pfizer Exec Out of Player Health Meeting

Last Updated Dec 15, 2008 4:20 PM EST

Pfizer's director of health policy, Eleanor Perfetto, was locked out of a meeting about former NFL players with health problems even though she is married to an ex-player with dementia and is thus not able to represent himself. Perfetto was barred from the meeting for the 19th Century-style reason that she is female and may swoon at the salty language of ex-pros.

The football league set up a private meeting between it and former players to discuss the needs of players whose health is in decline. Perfetto's husband is Ralph Wenzel, a backup guard with the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers from 1966 to 1973. She must feed him, bathe him and explain everything going on around him.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell personally told Perfetto she could not enter the meeting:

Goodell said later that he had been following the wishes of a group of retired players who had requested the meetings. Harry Carson, a former Giants linebacker, confirmed that in a telephone interview Friday afternoon, adding that players felt that the presence of women could impede the discussion.
Perfetto pointed out the obvious:
"We wives are the voice of players with dementia, because they can't speak for themselves," Perfetto said. "They are only allowing players healthy enough to attend. That means they're getting a very slanted view of what it's like out there."
Perfetto wants to hear her views on whether playing in the NFL is linked to dementia later in life from head injuries on the field.