A Couple of Things You Might Not Have Known About JFK and RFK

The 50/50 round at the JGTAI was JFK or RFK. Sunday was Bobby’s birthday, which inspired the round. There a few kind of random questions in the round I thought I’d throw out a bit more info on, just for fun.

One of the questions was “Which brother regularly took steroids?” The answer was JFK. He was also the answer to “Who got so sick he was given last rites in 1947?” JFK spent most of his adult life in extreme pain and illness. He suffered from colitis, and took more steroids than Mark McGwire. Back then, the side effects were unknown, so steroids were seen as a cure all to be doled out liberally. His Addison’s disease made him so ill in 1947 that he was expected to die within the year, and he was given last rites while on a cruise ship. This from the Atlantic:

The following year, while in England, Kennedy became ill again. He ended up in a hospital in London, where a doctor for the first time diagnosed the Addison’s disease…The doctor told Pamela Churchill, Winston Churchill’s daughter-in-law and a friend of Kennedy’s, “That young American friend of yours, he hasn’t got a year to live.” On his way home to the United States, on the Queen Mary, Kennedy became so sick that upon arrival a priest was brought aboard to give him last rites before he was carried off the ship on a stretcher. In 1948, when bad weather made a plane trip “iffy,” he told his friend Ted Reardon, “It’s okay for someone with my life expectancy.”

Another question was, “Which brother played on the football team at Harvard?” The answer was Bobby. His football career was shortlived. This from the book Robert Kennedy, Brother Protector: Robert returned to Harvard for the 1946 fall semester. For the next two years, he centered his attentions on football, paying scant attention to his studies…Even with several bigger and faster athletes at his position, Robert Kennedy started at left end when Harvard took the field for its 1947 season opener against Western Maryland. He caught a short touchdown pass in the blowout victory, but then injured his leg in practice and did not play again until the Yale game, when a sympathetic coach briefly put him in the game to insure Robert’s varsity letter.

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