Is There Life After Football? Surviving the NFL
In January 2014, President Barack Obama made headlines when he confided to New Yorker reporter Davis Remnick that, if he had a son, he would discourage him from playing in the NFL. “I would not let my son play pro football,” he told the writer. Obama’s words came on the heels of a year of heightened awareness of the life-long consequences of a professional football career. In August 2013, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement with over 4,500 retired players seeking damages for head injuries sustained during play. Thousands of others are seeking disability benefits in the State of California for on-field injuries. But the possibility of lifelong disability is not the only problem facing professional football players after their playing careers—often brief to begin with—come to an end. Many players, having spent years focusing on football, find themselves at sea when they either leave or are forced out of the NFL, without any alternate life plans or even the resources to make them.
Is There Life After Football? draws upon the experiences of hundreds of former players as they describe their lives after their football days are over. It also incorporates stories about their playing careers, even before entering the NFL, to provide context for understanding their current situations.The authors begin with an analysis of the “bubble”-like conditions of privilege that NFL players experience while playing, conditions that often leave players unprepared for the real world once they retire and must manage their own lives. The book also examines the key issues affecting former NFL players in retirement: social isolation, financial concerns, inadequate career planning, psychological challenges, and physical injuries. From players who make reckless and unsustainable financial investments during their very few high-earning years, to players who struggle to form personal and professional relationships outside of football, the stories in the book put a very human face on the realities of the world of professional football. George Koonce Jr., a former NFL player himself, weaves in his own story throughout, explaining the challenges and setbacks he encountered and decisions that helped him succeed as an NFL Director of Player Development, PhD student, and university administrator after leaving the sport.
Ultimately, Is There Life After Football? concludes that, despite the challenges players face, it is possible for players to find success after leaving the NFL if they have the right support, education, and awareness of what might await them. But players themselves must also resist being totally engulfed by the NFL culture in which they live. A fascinating study with unprecedented insider access, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the world of professional football.
New York University Press