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Former pro football players warn against sleep apnea

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Several former pro football stars will be at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort tonight on Thursday to give a free seminar on sleep apnea and the problems it causes.

Dave Krieg, Derrick Kennard, Roy Green and others will be talking about their sleep apnea treatment.

"Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing at night," said David Gergen, President of the Pro Player Health Alliance. "The airway collapses and you can't get any oxygen. It goes on and goes on and goes on, and you can't get any air."

Sleep apnea can cause heart attacks, strokes, diabetes problems and can be fatal.

Green, who played for the Arizona Cardinals and other teams, first heard of the disease through a tragedy.

"I played with Reggie White in Philadelphia, a teammate of mine," said Green. "He passed away of sleep apnea about seven years or so ago."

About a year and a half ago, Green thought something was wrong.

"I'd go to bed, and would be in bed for about seven or eight hours, but yet it would feel like I didn't sleep at all," he said. "I decided to go and get checked and, low and behold, I had sleep apnea."

Green's sleep apnea was diagnosed after he underwent a 24-hour sleep study. A common treatment for sleep apnea is using a C-Pap machine, which requires users to wear a mask while the sleep. Green decided that wasn't for him.

"I'm having a hard time dating now, so I didn't want to have to put something on my face," he said, jokingly. "Sitting with a partner and having to put something on my face at night is going to ruin my chances even more."

Green instead uses a mouthpiece while he sleeps.

"It opens your passageway while you sleep. You just pop it in at night and you sleep."

Apnex Medical dot com says that Sleep Apnea afflicts 100 million people worldwide. Snoring is one of the symptoms. Green said that overweight people or those with large necks are most likely to have the disease, but people of all sizes can get sleep apnea.

The sleep apnea seminar is at 7 p.m. at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, located at 7200 N. Scottsdale Road. Admission is free and it's open to the public. The players will be available for photos and autographs, and a surprise guest will also be there.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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