HOF Health Announces Relationships with Alumni Groups at 3 Major Universities
Hall of Fame Health will provide medical services to alumni groups associated with three major universities, including USC, where several hundred former football players have formed Fight On Forever, a new nonprofit entity with the purpose of caring for former Trojan teammates facing life’s challenges.
Whether individuals or families are dealing with economic hardships or health-related issues, or struggles with addiction or mental health, Fight On Forever seeks to be a safe and trusted place where they can seek help, its founders said in announcing the entity today.
As part of their announcement, Fight On Forever also is launching a partnership with Hall of Fame Health, an entity formed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in early 2020 that seeks to assist former NFL players address health-related issues. Hall of Fame Health has partners throughout the country that serve the football community in areas ranging from insurance/coverage issues, to finding the best doctors and caregivers for even the most complex medical issues, to working with families on behavioral health matters, including intervention, addiction recovery and engaging in times of crisis.
Additionally, established alumni groups at the University of Michigan (For Those Who Stayed) and at the University of Notre Dame (Holtz’s Heroes Foundation, Inc.), also have agreed to work with Hall of Fame Health to deliver medical services to former football players from each school.
“Hall of Fame Health was geared to help former NFL players and their families,” said Jeremy Hogue, a former USC Academic All-American center, now CEO of Hall of Fame Health. “But as we built out our services and talked with our partners, there was really no reason not to expand it further and increase our impact. It’s still a tight community. We have Hall of Famers like Charles Woodson who are very glad we’ve helped some of his former Michigan teammates, and Ronnie Lott who’s really glad we’re helping former Trojans.
“And when we get on the phone with guys from Florida State or Texas, or guys that played at small colleges or HBCUs, we’ll work with them, too. We all want to help our teammates.”
For Those Who Stayed initially was connected to Hall of Fame Health when a former Wolverines player needed medical assistance and other avenues weren’t producing results.
“We weren’t sure where to turn, and they jumped right in and made a huge impact in the life of our teammate,” said Jarrett Irons, a former Michigan All-American who serves on the Board of Directors of For Those Who Stayed. “They literally had him with appointments scheduled with top specialists within 48 hours. Now, a year later, they’ve helped several Michigan guys. And as we’ve gotten to know their team better, Hall of Fame Health is just a tremendous resource run by a team that is a lot like us. We’re all kindred spirits.”
Reggie Brooks, a former All-American running back for the Fighting Irish and the Executive Director of Holtz’s Heroes Foundation, Inc., said the biggest part of that organization’s mission is to assist and serve the former players, coaches and team managers who were members of the Notre Dame family.
“Aligning with Hall of Fame Health and all that they can offer our members and their families is a huge help, and we’ve already put it to work and seen them in action,” Brooks said. “Especially when some of our former teammates are struggling with addiction or facing crisis issues. These are becoming bigger and bigger needs, and it’s hard to know where to turn. The relationship with Hall of Fame Health gives us the tools to support our community.”
Fight On Forever came out of conversations among several former Trojan players related to helping former teammates and wanting to establish something more formal and with more resources than the one-off stories they all shared of trying to assist certain individuals. Stories of many former Trojans – many of whom went on to careers in the NFL as well – who have been challenged in the transition from football have made headlines over the past several years.
“We hope to make a difference,” said former USC and NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, who will serve on the organization’s Board of Directors. “USC football is a tight community, and when our guys are struggling, or their families are struggling, we all feel it. And we all want to help.”
Peete is joined on the Board of Directors by Executive Director Brad Leggett, Frostee Rucker, Sam Baker, Mike Lamb and Hogue. In addition, the group includes several hundred former players who have joined as members of the organization, willing and wanting to be notified when a former player needs assistance. The group’s Advisory Board consists of more than 25 Trojan legends, including Anthony Muñoz, Marcus Allen, Matt Leinart, Keyshawn Johnson, Carson Palmer and Lott.
“To truly help guys and their families is hard work. It’s more than money. And it’s more than one or two guys can do on their own,” said Leggett, a former Trojan and NFL offensive lineman. “That’s what Fight On Forever is trying to be – an organization with real resources that can engage with people needing help by developing a real game plan that impacts lives forever.”
In just over 18 months since its formation, Hall of Fame Health has been involved with dozens of former NFL players and their families in providing solutions to issues across the spectrum of health care, including suicide prevention, getting people into recovery, advocating with families struggling with their health insurance, or organizing care for seniors who aren’t sure where to go for the best specialists. Hogue started the company after a phone call from Lott in 2018 challenging him to join with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to make a difference.