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The average life span of a professional football player, starting in 1920 when pro-football began, well the APFA/NFL began, to today is 68 years old. It has widely been reported that it is 51-55 years old. This is wrong!
The average pro-football player lives to be 68.1 years old. The average American male lives to the age of 78.7 years old. (American Female - 82 years.)
Yes, six (6) players have made it to or beyone the century mark. They are:
Sam 'Salemi' Dana - 1928 New York Yankees - 104 years old
Thomas P. Dickinson - 1920 Detroit Heralds - 102 years old
Joe Marhefka - 1926 Philadelphia Quakers (AFL) 101 years old
Ralph Horween - 1921 Chicago Cardinals - 100 years old
Clarence 'Ace' Parker who turned 100 years old on May 17, 2012
John P. Kovatch who turned 100 years old on June 6, 2012
While Benjamin S. 'Sport' Donnelly was technically the first professional football players to pass away (August 3, 1922), he did not play in the new APFA/NFL league that started in 1920.
The first professional football player to pass away from the APFA/NFL league is:
Sidney Gepford and he played for the 1920 Decatur Staleys. He died in 1924 at the age of 28.
He committed suicide on 09/09/1924, killing himself with a starter's pistol at his home in Marion, Illinois, where he recently started a job as athletic director of Marion Township High School.
Lucien Reeberg was 21 years old when he passed away on January 31, 1964. He was a large man at 6'4 and weighing 290 lbs. He died of cardiac failure brought on uremic poisoning. It has been reported that the initial injury happened during the Thanksgiving game after getting 'hit' by an opposing player.