If you watch any NFL game on any channel, whether it be Thursday night or Sunday night, ESPN or FOX, chances are you’ll see countless former NFL players. One of the most popular career choices for retired players is to be an analyst or sports commentator for NFL games, if they can snag such a prime gig.
However, there are a lot of players, and consequently, a lot of new retired players every year. So what happens to them? Some players struggle – a statistic in a 2009 Sports Illustrated report cites that 78% of NFL players face some type of financial issues. It may seem ludicrous, considering the often multi-million dollar contracts that star NFL players receive, but with great success and stardom often comes a great disregard for practicality. Some NFL players don’t fully comprehend that their playing days are only a fraction of their lives, and spend recklessly without regard to the future.
This is not the case for all players, however. Many retired NFL players go on to be equally successful in their other endeavours. Name recognition for some of the big stars definitely helps – many players end up getting endorsement deals even after they have retired because their names and faces are so recognizable. NFL players often incorporate the sports world into their post-football careers: they coach high school football teams, they return to coach in the league itself, they work in the business side of sports, etc. Other athletes go a whole new direction, demonstrating that their college degree mattered as much as their college playing time as they embark on careers in finance or business.
If you’re wondering how some NFL stars’ lives have turned out since their retirement from the league, look no further. Here are the stories of ten former NFL stars.
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10 Brett Favre
Former quarterback Brett Favre played for several NFL teams, most notably the Green Bay Packers from 1992 to 2007. He spent nearly 20 years in the NFL and racked up endless records and accolades. He played with his retirement a bit, came back not only once but twice, but is now officially retired for good. Favre has been married to wife Deanna since 1996 and the couple have two children, Brittany and Breleigh. Favre also has a grandson, who made him the only active NFL player who was a grandfather during his playing years. Since 2012, he has been coaching young future football stars at Oak Grove High School near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He is also known for his charity work, as he combined his Brett Favre Fourward Foundation with wife Deanna’s charity in 2010, creating the Favre 4 Hope Foundation. To date, the foundation has donated over $3 million to charities in Wisconsin and Favre’s native Mississippi through events like charity softball games and fundraising dinners. What’s he serving at those dinners? Probably some red meat, as he’s also a partner in Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
9 Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice was an incredible wide receiver who played over twenty years in the NFL, primarily with the San Francisco 49ers. He was also ranked number one in the NFL Network’s NFL Films production, The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players. So what is this best ranked player ever in NFL history up to nowadays? He continues to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and has four children, including son Jerry Rice Jr., who is taking after his father and is currently a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins. Rice has made himself a known name outside of the sports world by appearing on several television shows such as Dancing With The Stars (where he finished in second place), Law and Order: SVU, Don’t Forget the Lyrics, The Class, The Game, One Tree Hill, Pros vs. Joes, The Biggest Loser, and Deal or No Deal. He also appeared in the direct-to-video film Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling. He’s putting his celebrity to good use in his multi-year marketing contract with Van Heusen. He was also, unsurprisingly, an alumni captain for Team Rice in the 2014 Pro Bowl.
8 Ryan Kuehl
Kuehl, a snapper who spent twelve years playing for various NFL teams, was always aware that his football career would come to an end, and planned accordingly. While he was playing in the NFL, he spent many of his off seasons pursuing an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship. He put his back-up plan to good use when he retired, and he currently holds the role of Director of Professional Sports Marketing for Under Armour. His professional sports background likely makes him a perfect fit for a job which entails seeking out athletes who fit the athletic Under Armour brand.
7 Eugene Profit
A man whose name is Mr. Profit in finance? Seems a perfect fit. Profit earned his B.A. in Economics from Yale University before going on to play in the NFL. When his athletic career was cut short by a hamstring injury, he turned to his second passion – finance. He was a broker with Legg Mason before starting his own company, Profit Investments, in 1996. Profit and his company have been profiled in countless business and financial publications such as Business Week, Smart Money, Black Enterprise, Pension & Investments, and Investor’s Business Daily. The company he started with $100,000 has since grown to contain nearly $2 billion in assets. Profit Investments is a true success story. Profit also places a high value on charity and founded the Profit Charitable Foundation. He lives in North Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Michelle Quash Profit and their five daughters.
6 Dick Butkus
Butkus was one of the most legendary linebackers in NFL history and spent his entire NFL career with the Chicago Bears. This #10 player of all time, according to NFL.com, is an 8 time Pro Bowl selection and Hall of Fame inductee. He now lives with his wife Helen in Malibu, and has three children – Ricky, Matt, and Nikki. Butkus has been in the public eye in his many acting and production roles on television. He also has a passion for charity and is involved in several foundations and charities. The Butkus Foundation is responsible for coordinating the “I Play Clean” Campaign, which strives to end steroid abuse.
5 Joe Montana
Joe Cool, The Comeback Kid, whatever you want to call him, chances are you recognize his name. This Hall of Fame quarterback is a four time Super Bowl Champion and three time Super Bowl MVP. What’s he up to these days? Well, for awhile his colors were red and white – wine, that is. Alongside wife Jennifer and their four children, Montana lived in Wine Country where he owned horses and made wine. He produced a red wine entitled Montagia with a winemaker at Beringer, and donated the profits to his charitable foundation. He also served as junior varsity quarterbacks coach at Cardinal Newman High School, where son Nathaniel was on the team. Once Joe and wife Jennifer became empty nesters, they moved into a condo in San Francisco, and the city welcomed the Golden Boy back.
4 Dhani Jones
What has linebacker Dhani Jones done since turning in his jersey? The question is what hasn’t he done – Jones is both educated and eccentric, with a variety of interests and the determination to pursue them all. He travelled the world as the host of Travel Channel series Dhani Tackles the Globe, where the sports star was taught to play a variety of international sports. He brought his signature bow tie and love of food to Cincinnati, opening the Bow Tie Café. He also has been having success in the world of business as a founding partner in New York-based VMG Creative, an agency with big name clients such as Michael Kors, Estee Lauder, and Proctor and Gamble. Oh, and he also wrote a book – The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey. Jones is a true modern day Renaissance man.
3 Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders is a super-athlete who played both football and baseball professional. His athletic prowess earned him the nickname “Prime Time” for constantly showing how massive his athletic skill set was. He’s played several positions, in several sports, on several teams, and his legacy is pretty amazing. He now works as an analyst at NFL Network and has been on several of the network’s shows, and even has a segment capitalizing on his nickname entitled “Let’s Go Primetime.” Shortly after his retirement from the NFL, Sanders and wife Pilar got their own reality show, entitled Deion and Pilar: Prime Time Love. Sanders has five children with his wife Pilar and the family resides in Prosper, Texas. He recently rejoined CBS Sports as an analyst for Thursday games, though his work with the NFL Network continues on Sundays. Sanders has also mentored several football players, from high school prospects to pro players like Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant. He has a passion for helping children and his non-profit, the TRUTH Youth Academic & Sports organization, helps steer children into sports and away from the streets.
2 Joe Namath
When he’s not wearing big fur coats to Super Bowls, Namath has been keeping busy since his retirement. Thanks to the celebrity that his status as a Hall of Fame quarterback afforded him, he’s guest starred in various television shows from Married… with Children to The Brady Bunch. He also reinforced his nickname, Broadway Joe, by appearing in several summerstock productions such as Fiddler on the Roof and Lil’ Abner. Joe was married to wife Deborah from 1984 until 2000, when the couple divorced. Namath has two daughters from the marriage who live in Tequesta, Florida with him, and one grandchild. Broadway Joe has also been busy improving his mind – he left to play in the NFL when he was 15 credits short of graduating, so he went back in 2006 to earn his B.A. in interdisciplinary studies. He is, as many retired players, involved in several charitable organizations, and is of course often part of NFL celebrations.
1 Michael Strahan
Michael Strahan spent his whole 15 year NFL career with the New York Giants, and the city understandably considered him one of their own. So what did he do after retirement? Well, if you ever watch morning television, you should be able to answer that one – the former defensive end managed to beat out several prospective celebrity hosts to land the coveted hosting role alongside Kelly Ripa. He is now there bright and early every morning on Live! with Kelly and Michael. Apart from his morning hosting duties, he’s also been very involved with the media, in varied roles from analyst for Fox NFL Sunday to star of his quickly canceled sitcom Brothers.
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