Super Bowl XLIV is a mere memory now. Faint echoes of “Who Dat” ring in our ears. We’ve seen a Brees blow through and we’ve seen the burning Bush. For fans, the season is over and we’re wondering what to do on Sunday afternoons. We could relive the season by watching games of our favorite teams on DVD but it just doesn’t hold the same magic. We could spend our days anticipating the draft or go on a hot wing fast in defiance of another season ending. We could turn our attention to other sports but football is football.
However, the end of a season often means the end of a pro player’s football life. Often, the end comes sooner than later due to an injury or just being cut from the roster. Other players, after a long and illustrious career, decide to hang up their helmet to preserve the remaining strength of their bodies.
What happens to any one of the 1,900 players once the NFL spotlight party ends, and they’re just a “regular” person?
How do their bodies cope from the myriad of hard hits they gave and received during their career?
Does a metamorphosis take place in their attitude toward winning, or does that same intensity and self-confidence translate into the corporate or entrepreneurial world?
According to Bob LaMonte, author of Winning the NFL Way, “Within five years of leaving the league, 75% of NFL players end up either broke, divorced, or unemployed.” Sad statistic and I don’t want to believe it. But, alas, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Many are addicted to painkillers, alcohol, or drugs, and facing bankruptcy and depression. Many players whose sole identity is wrapped up in being in the spotlight will have a difficult time adjusting to an everyday life of anonymity. One former player likens it to going from CEO, back to the mailroom.
Fred Vinson, former Cornerback for the Green Bay Packers states, “If you don’t have a strong self-identity before the NFL, you’ll have a harder time establishing one afterward.”
In 1956, to help aid the transition, the NFL established the NFL Players Association, a union to assure that the rights of players are protected. The Player Development division of each team encourages players to start businesses of their own, even during playing years. The program focuses on four primary programs: Continuing Education, Financial Education, Career Internships, and Player Assistance Services. Players are encouraged to invest and plan well for their 40-year post-football life.
For every story of post-football defeat, there are many more success stories. If you browse NFL profiles on LinkedIn, Prolebrity, or Google, you’ll see just how many former players are translating their winning attitude and work ethics into victorious combinations in business and life. The same self-confidence that helped them excel as pro players now helps them excel in their careers.
A lot of the former players I communicate with manifest that same exuberant passion for their current position in life; whether it’s financial services, non-profits, web design/SEO, or promoting their kicking school. To combat the beatings their bodies took during football, they maintain the relentless pursuit of muscular, strong bodies and healthy lifestyles. The defining difference between floundering former players and successful former players is attitude. Attitude is everything and it’s a choice we all make a million times a day…everyday.
Michelle Hill, owner of Winning Proof, writes press releases, blog posts, brochures, and website content for fitness and sports-related companies. Her mission is to help fitness professionals and athletes achieve a greater level of success in their entrepreneurial endeavors with her writing expertise. Feel free to learn more and connect with her here.