Gary Plummer

Trust Spotlights

Gary Plummer


Today, Gary Plummer, the former NFL linebacker and Super Bowl XXIX champion, considers himself a mental health advocate, a yoga enthusiast, and a proud supporter of causes he holds dear.

Born and raised a 49ers fan in the San Francisco Bay Area, Plummer is a true Californian through and through. He has since made the move to San Diego, where he resides today, admitting that the year-round warm weather is why he migrated to the southern end of his home state.

His earliest football memories consisted of playing neighborhood games alongside his older brothers, who Plummer credits with “toughening” him up as a player from the very beginning. His college career started at Ohlone College before completing his final two years at the University of California, Berkley. From there, he professionally played for the Oakland Invaders of the USFL for three years before joining the NFL.

Plummer spent the first eight years of his NFL career playing for the San Diego Chargers and his final four with the San Francisco 49ers—a fitting ending for the kid who had once dreamed of playing for his hometown team. His incredible twelve-year career in the NFL included playing in 265 games, completing 1,029 tackles and 6 interceptions, and, of course, earning a Super Bowl ring.

In my mind, to play this game, you have to have an 'S' on your chest and a cape on your back.

Serendipity struck when it became clear which two teams had made it to Super Bowl XXIX— Plummer’s previous team, the Chargers, and his current team at the time, the 49ers. He recalled the whole game as surreal and particularly meaningful—he was able to share the field with close friends from throughout his career. Winning the game and playing among the likes of Steve Young and Jerry Rice “was absolutely the greatest experience of my life,” he said.

Plummer left the League at the age of thirty-eight and began a career as a Color Analyst. “I was so fortunate that I was able to broadcast for the 49ers for thirteen years after I was done,” he said, “The transition for me was seamless.”

Still, leaving the League is never easy. “The hardest thing is you go from this unbelievable world of camaraderie in the NFL that is different than a lot of jobs,” he said, and “you feel a tremendous bond with your teammates that you miss when the game is over.” His advice for Former Players looking for that connection and brotherhood is to embrace The Trust’s opportunities to reconnect with past teammates and others who shared time in the League.

Go speak with someone at The Trust. It’s amazing how many resources there are, from finishing your education, doing internships, as well as ways of keeping a network with your former teammates.

In addition to utilizing The Trust for a sense of community, Plummer described The Trust’s Brain and Body Assessment as a life-altering experience.

Through his utilization of The Trust’s Brain and Body Assessment, Plummer was able to get the undivided attention of astounding medical professionals. “I was so fortunate to be able to go down to Tulane University and get comprehensive head-to-toe evaluation,” he said. The entire process was described by Plummer as simply wonderful: “So much was just taken care of for you.”

What made a world of a difference for Plummer was that the doctors and Professional Athlete Care Team (PACT) at The Tulane University School of Medicine, a long-standing Trust Partner, took the time to set specific goals to help him live a holistically healthier life—from setting a target weight to desired blood pressure to tips on how to improve cognitive ability. Rather than feeling like just another patient at the doctor’s office, Plummer said Tulane blew him away with the amount of time they spent with him and care they put into the process.

Plummer accredited the ease of the trip to The Trust’s VIP preparation, which included hotel, travel, and dining accommodation that made the trip enjoyable.

Every single one of the doctors there—and I think I saw 12 different doctors— care about you and they want what's best for you, so it was truly remarkable.

If it weren’t for his wife, Corey, however, he admits he never would have gone to get the help that they both knew he needed. “If you're a former player out there, there's somebody by your side,” he said. While he didn’t openly admit, or even fully recognize it himself, Corey knew he was dealing with depression and mental health struggles. Today, he implores all Former Players to listen to their loved ones and to make sure they are getting the help they need.

Plummer has also found major pain alleviation and improved health through a practice he was skeptical about—yoga. Though he entered his first yoga class “mocking” the entire thing, by the end of the hour, he found that his headache was finally starting to subside. He hasn’t missed a day since. “It really started me down a path to discover that there’s got to be other things out there to improve my mental health,” he said.

His entire journey has been one of astounding success.

Today, Plummer utilizes his platform to inspire the next generation to fight through hardship and to help others struggling with their mental health. He spends time speaking with high school athletes and visiting juvenile detention centers to talk about “how to harness adversity and to bring it in the right direction.” Additionally, he is proud to put on charity events in partnership with his former teammate Steve Young and his charity, The Forever Young Foundation, and has dedicated time to giving back to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

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