The life of an active NFL superstar can be amazing away from the field. You might get to go home to your mansion (where your model girlfriend may be waiting). You may arrive in any one of your amazing sports cars and you probably even got to buy your mom a house. But the key word in that opening sentence is active. Because for the people on our list that are still alive, the chances of them reading this list and remembering it definitely isn't very high.
Life after the NFL is tough for many players and for several reasons that we'll dictate below. Many of the entrants are suffering from CTE, a diagnosis brought on from blows to the head that causes irrational anger, depression, and forgetfulness among other awful symptoms. For some, the disease was terrible enough that it led to them taking their own life.
Others find that life after the NFL is anything but glamorous and their search for a new identity is too big a burden to overcome. Saddled with bad financial decisions, too many players leave the league broke - both literally, physically and mentally. You'll be stunned at which big-time players you have a bigger bank account than and just how far some people have slipped.
These are 15 Heartbreaking Stories Of Life After The NFL.
15 Warren Sapp
Warren Sapp was a dominant force on the field from 1995-2007 and in 2013 was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame. But he wasn't doing much celebrating after retirement when the IRS came for huge chunks of money owed, as did a former spouse who said Sapp owed her $876,000 in alimony and child support.
When he then filed for bankruptcy, he admitted to having under $1,000 in his banking account. Sapp's life eventually turned around after getting a job to work with the NFL Network, but that ended after he was arrested for soliciting and assaulting a prostitute. To Sapp's defense, the charges were eventually dismissed. Sapp also spoke out in June saying his memory was absolutely terrible from the years he spent in the league and that he needs help. Included in his struggles was the admission that he required his phone to remember appointments and daily events.
14 Chris McAllister
One of the biggest expenses that players can have is making child support payments. This is a lesson that Chris McAllister absolutely learned. It was reported in 2011 that McAllister was attempting to have his $11,000 a month payment lowered, saying "I have been unemployed since 2009. I have no income. I live in my parent's home. My parents provide me with my basic living expenses as I do not have the funds to do so." McAllister played from 1999-2009 and attended 3 Pro Bowls as well as winning the Super Bowl with Baltimore for the 2000 season. At the very least Chris was fortunate enough that he had parents that were willing to take him back in, but that's not a situation any adult much less a former NFL Pro Bowler wants to find himself in.
13 Junior Seau
Junior Seau was an incredibly accomplished NFL defensive player. He was selected to 12 Pro Bowls, named the Defensive Man of the Year in 1992 and became one of the most iconic San Diego (sorry...Los Angeles) Chargers of all-time, before spending time in Miami and New England prior to retirement. Seau took his own life 3 years after leaving the game of football. He chose to do so by shooting himself in the chest and in the process, leave his brain intact. It was learned during an autopsy that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and his family went on to try and sue the NFL for damages. While it's not clear what symptoms Seau was suffering from, CTE can often bring on severe depression, rage and memory loss among other awful symptoms.
12 Mike Webster
Mike Webster was a tremendous centre for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974-1988 and finished out his career with a year in Kansas City. He was nicknamed "Iron Mike" for his toughness, but perhaps that tough-guy persona pushed Webster to play when he really shouldn't have. After passing away from a heart attack at the age of 50, Webster's brain was examined and diagnosed with CTE. He was the first former player to be diagnosed, a trend that is unfortunately present in several entries on our list.
Prior to passing away Webster's life had also hit rock bottom in several areas. He suffered from constant pain, went through a divorce and spent time living in his car. He also forged a Ritalin prescription to try and numb his pain. Perhaps even most shockingly, his son admitted that Webster even bought a police Taser gun that he would use 10-20 times to try and calm his nerves.
11 Clinton Portis
Clinton Portis' evaporation of his $40+ million fortune could be linked, at least in his mind, in large part to poor financial decisions that his advisors had made. He was so infuriated that back in June, he admitted that he had plans to harm at least one of them after it became apparent there was no way he'd ever get that money back.
You didn't hear about the news story, so it's clear that Portis didn't, but that is just a snapchat into the dismal situation that Portis found himself in after retiring. Portis' blew through his money while playing in part due to the loss of close friend Sean Taylor. His spending included taking several women, some he barely knew, on lavish international trips. Granted, he also owned several homes and often flaunted his wealth with lavish purchases. He filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and reported he only had $150 in his bank account. After suffering over 10 concussions in his career though, Portis has also admitted he's terrified of undergoing testing that could reveal significant brain damage - even if it would lead to a potential settlement from the NFL.
10 Terrell Owens
When Terrell Owens was on the field he was one of the best wide receivers to ever lace them up. But perhaps his focus on the field led to an inability to pay attention to his finances. Something he didn't realize until 2012 when he described his financial situation as being awful. Owens at the time was reportedly paying upwards of $44,000 in child support to 4 different women and was playing in the Arena Football League.
Owens has turned his life around however and is actually back on TV as one of the contestants on this years' Dancing With The Stars. We're sure the judges there will be a much bigger fan of his stylistic celebrations than the NFL would be!
9 Tony Dorsett
Tony Dorsett was well deserving of his selection with the 2nd overall pick in the 1977 draft. He was a tremendous running back for the Dallas Cowboys and has also been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
But after 12 years in the NFL, Dorsett has admitted recently that the effects of CTE have left him with more bad days than good. Along with fits of unexplainable anger, Dorsett was struggling with memory loss that included being unable to remember the names of some of the doctors that have been helping him. Which means that the fans who watched his career might have a much clearer idea as to how his career went than the man who actually lived it.
8 Vince Young
Vince Young is one of the greatest college quarterbacks to ever play the game. Sadly, however, his NFL career definitely didn't pan out the way he wanted to and he only managed to stay in the league from 2006-2011. Young's retired life was mostly plagued by storylines of how mismanaged his finances were. Despite making over $30 million, Young had several loans that he had to pay back and by 2014 had filed for bankruptcy. He also received a DUI in 2016.
Young's spending allegedly included a $15,000 trip to the Cheesecake factory and nights of drinking with teammates that could run him even more. He attempted a comeback in the CFL at the age of 34, but suffered a torn hamstring and was later waived.
7 Dave Duerson
Dave Duerson was an NFL safety who played in the league from 1983-1989. Perhaps due in part to the era of which he played, Duerson suffered and we're sure worked through many concussions in his career. A tremendous person off the field, Duerson also took home the NFL Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award In 1987.
Duerson must have been aware of the beating his brain took because when he elected to end his own life, he did so by shooting himself in the chest. Along with this, Duerson asked his brain be used for research - during which it was found that he was suffering from CTE.
6 Shane Dronett
Shane Dronett might not be making it into the Hall of Fame, but he managed to be in the league from 1992-2002 as a defensive lineman and racked up close to 50 sacks. Dronett's retired life was heartbreaking through and through. His family reported that in 2006 that he started to display several concerning signs including fear, anger, and paranoia.
It was then discovered that Dronett had been diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, but the removal of the tumour did not improve Dronett's symptoms. Dronett eventually turned a gun on his own wife and after she escaped, he took his own life. It was discovered that he was suffering from CTE. And while his career did have injuries - including a torn ACL, concussions were not a standout problem, making this all the more terrifying.
5 Lawrence Phillips
It's hard to say that Lawrence Phillips was a tremendous football player. But he was at the very least determined, as from 1996-2003 he played in 3 different leagues. This included two years with the St.Louis Rams and one with Miami, a stop in with the Barcelona Dragons (remember NFL Europe?) before going to the 49ers and then finishing up in the CFL.
Life after the grid-iron was anything but smooth for Phillips who in 2005 attempted to run over 3 teenagers with his car following a dispute. Phillips also significantly abused his former girlfriend and when all the charges came before him in court, he was sentenced to over 30 years in jail. Jail life wasn't much smoother for Phillips, who in 2015 killed his cellmate. His life came to an end in 2016 after he hung himself in his cell.
4 Larry Morris
Let's be honest, you probably didn't watch Larry Morris play. He was in the league from 1955-1966, but he probably couldn't have told you that while he was still alive. When The Sporting News did a study on former players, Morris was at the focal point. They highlighted the fact that Morris had little to no memory of his professional career and had immense struggles in his personal life and required significant help from others. As a linebacker, Morris suffered contact on a regular basis and it was reported he actively played through several concussions. When Morris passed away in 2012 it was reportedly due to complications related to dementia that was linked by his neuropsychiatrist to his days playing football.
3 Joe DeLamielleure
One of your favourite things to do might be to relax and read a book or watch a television show with your partner. But for Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure, the impact of CTE left him crippled and unable to do those things. According to his wife, it was only through the usage of magnetic resonance therapy that he started to improve. Throughout his career, he was never diagnosed with a concussion but reported to "seeing stars" during collisions in practices, as well as one particular instance in which he was knocked out - literally thought he was back home at his family bar - but was given smelling salts and thrown back in there.
DeLamielleure also admitted that he was suffering from 68% hearing loss because the league didn't used to disallow helmet slapping. His career in the NFL lasted from 1973-1985.
2 Ronney Jenkins
Ronney Jenkins went undrafted in the NFL but to his credit still managed to carve out a career that saw him be arguably the best returner in football for his first two years. But throughout his career, Jenkins battled through injuries. This included one game in which he said he was literally knocked unconscious yet still finished the game and played the following week.
Part of this was due to the fact that Jenkins played from 2000-2004 when concussions were not treated as seriously. Life after football has been horrendous for Jenkins, including exhibiting rage on a much more frequent basis and trouble with his memory. Jenkins has also attempted to take his own life on two occasions, including one incident in which he played "Russian roulette" with himself but the bullet flew over his shoulder.
1 Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett put together a respectable career lasting from 2001-2010. A running back, Bennett played most of his career with Minnesota but also bounced around with New Orleans (practice squad), Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders.
But Bennett, a former first-round pick, is only going to be able to pick up a football if there is one in the prison yard. He was sentenced serve 5 years in prison for taking out fraudulent loans. The incident included Bennett stealing documents that allowed him to take the loans out against the house of his girlfriend's parents. Probably not the career he was hoping for after leaving the NFL!
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