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updated: 9/5/2012 1:26 PM

SI cover story: Jim McMahon's health struggles

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  • Laurie Navon wraps her arms around her boyfriend, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who is struggling with early on-set dementia and other health issues since he retired from the NFL. The Sept. 10 issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now, tells their story along with other women now caring for former NFL stars.

      Laurie Navon wraps her arms around her boyfriend, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who is struggling with early on-set dementia and other health issues since he retired from the NFL. The Sept. 10 issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now, tells their story along with other women now caring for former NFL stars.
    Cover photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

 
Daily Herald Report

Jim McMahon, the former punky QB who led the Chicago Bears to their only Super Bowl title, has landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated again, and this time he's not alone or celebrating a comeback.

McMahon and girlfriend Laurie Navon, who cares for him, are part of the SI cover story on the women behind former players suffering with debilitating health issues.

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Here is SI's take on the story:

Too often forgotten in the NFL concussion debate are the wives and girlfriends who bear the burden of caring for the suffering players -- and watching the men they love slip away. Three of these women, Laurie Navon (girlfriend of former QB Jim McMahon), Mary Lee Kocourek (wife of former TE Dave Kocourek) and Mary Ann Easterling (widow of former safety Ray Easterling) share their personal stories with staff writer Melissa Segura. Navon and McMahon appear on the cover of the Sept. 10, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now.

Navon met McMahon, who has early-onset dementia, at a golf outing seven years ago. But the man she knows now is not the charismatic, sweet, funny, confident man she met that day. She began to notice a difference in McMahon's behavior in early 2007, and since tests confirmed his dementia, she has done everything to make adjustments in both their lives.

Navon and McMahon are confronting the disease at the beginning of its development, while Mary Lee and Dave Kocourek are suffering through its final stages. Dave was a four-time Pro Bowl tight end in the 1960s, and in 2002, at age 64, he learned he had dementia. It's been a rough road since around '05. Mary says, "When you see a man that was so big and so strong and so nice and gentle, and he doesn't know the difference between a toothbrush and a razor. He could have cut his mouth wide-open. After [he] got progressively worse, I had to watch everything he did. I couldn't let him take a shower or do any of the things you need to do every morning without me being there. I couldn't chance it."

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