The liver does not get enough credit. Everyone’s always going on about how you can’t survive without the flashier organs, like a heart or a brain, but try walking around without a liver– you won’t get very far.
Eric Barton, former NFL linebacker is still here thanks to a liver transplant performed at Cedars-Sinai’s Liver Disease and Transplant Center. Teaming up with Legends, he and 50 of his NFL friends have designed the 50 for 50 limited edition socks to benefit the hospital that saved his life.
Let’s start with a quick laundry list of why you should love and care for your liver: it’s a large gland that does over 500 things. It produces bile, converts nutrients into usable substances, neutralizes toxic things before they hurt you, it breaks down fats and gives you energy, regulates your blood sugar, filters blood, stores vitamins, helps your blood to clot so you don’t bleed to death– the list goes on. Livers are also the only human organ that can regenerate. It’s not full-on magical though: there are a number of conditions the liver can’t bounce back from, which include liver cancer, acute liver failure, cirrhosis, and some genetic disorders.
Eric Barton had been an integral part of the Oakland Raiders, helping get them to Super Bowl XXXVII, served as Team Captain on the New York Jets, and bolstered the Cleveland Browns before a neck injury ended his professional football career in 2009. As if that weren’t enough, Barton’s liver began to fail: transplant was his only option.
“I thought I was going to die,” Barton says, “but thanks to the team at Cedars-Sinai, I came out of this horrible experience with a lot of joy and renewed determination.”
Barton has channeled this determination into giving back to the team at Cedars-Sinai who saved his life. He just happens to be friends with Scott Hochstadt, the co-founder of Legends Sock Co., a Manhattan Beach business that decided there’s no reason athletic socks should be boring. Barton, whose jersey number is 50, brought on 50 other NFL players to launch Legends’ 50 for 50 limited edition sock line. Players like TJ Ward, Charles Woodson, Jon Gruden, Keyshawn Johnson and Marcus Allen have all designed socks for the cause. Only 200 pairs of each design are sold and a portion of each does directly to the Cedars-Sinai’s liver center.
“I saw first-hand the effects of liver disease, not only through my multi-year struggle, but from also meeting fellow patients in the hospital,” Barton says. “This project is giving me a renewed purpose in life, and I am grateful to all the players who are offering their time and celebrity to help a cause that’s near and dear to my heart.”
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