For NFL players, one fact remains evident: their fast-paced, action-packed career will one day exceed their physical capabilities and result in the need to find an off-the-field career they are equally passionate about. Transferring the knowledge they learned on the field to another career is not only doable but has proven to be extremely rewarding for many former players. Review these 5 success stories and see for yourself how these individuals have scored big in alternate careers of interest even after the final whistle.
Marshall Faulk – NFL Network Analyst
As the first NFL player to win both the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and the Pro Bowl’s Most Valuable Player Award in the same season, Marshall Faulk’s 13-year NFL career was nothing short of a great achievement. In fact, he was voted one of the NFL Network’s Top 100 Greatest Players in 2010. Despite Faulk’s retirement in 2007, his passion still lies in the NFL as he is amidst his fifth season at the NFL Network, where he is an analyst for NFL Total Access. He also appears on Thursday Night Football’s Thursday Night Kickoff and NFL GameDay Morning on NFL Sundays. Currently living in San Diego, Faulk’s unwavering love for football and his remarkable contributions to the community also occupy an important part of his endeavors. The Marshall Faulk Foundation (www.marshallfaulk.com) is centered on sports and education, with the goal of providing ways to keep kids off the streets. Now that’s a life one can’t complain about!
Garrison Hearst – Family Man
This versatile running back who spent his 12-year career with the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos was one of only two NFL players to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award twice. Known for his speed and agility, people may not expect him to ‘slow down’ his lifestyle. Since his retirement, he has engaged himself into something that he loves more than football. This ‘love’ which includes building doll houses, going to ballet and gymnastics has given Hearst more than he can ever ask for. Residing in his native Georgia, Hearst is a fully dedicated father of 2 sons and a daughter, husband and man of the house. The future for him is “just watching my kids get old. That is my love right now,” says Hearst. Who would’ve thought the muscular man with a tough-looking exterior would be a happy, stay-at-home dad who builds doll houses?
Ryan Kuehl – Director of Professional Sports Marketing, Under Armour
Known as one of the premium snappers in the NFL, Ryan Kuehl’s 12-year journey in the league has given him the opportunity to achieve success due to his consistent, hardworking attitude. During off-seasons, Kuehl would dedicate his time off to work toward his MBA in finance and entrepreneurship – his alternate interest and goal. After retiring in 2007, he pursued his post-NFL ambition as the Director of Professional Sports Marketing where he plays a crucial role in signing professional athletes that are compatible with the brand culture and image. However, don’t think that Kuehl is in a totally different world. In fact, his current career allows him to take on challenges in a fast-paced environment, just like how it would be on the football field: “You get over the ‘bad plays’ quickly, encourage those around you and move on.” Clearly, football is still on Kuehl’s mind but now with his current career, his extra time with family has also been a positive change. Commitment and perseverance truly pays off – ask Kuehl – he knows.
Ron Riviera – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Ron Riveiera held a 9-season career in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, meanwhile being given the honors of becoming the first Puerto Rican/Mexican to play in the NFL and on a Super Bowl Championship Team (Super Bowl XX, Chicago Bears). Riviera, with his defensive mindset for the game, was a linebacker before entering his coaching career as a linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and a defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers. Despite Riviera’s shaky coaching career, he has recently landed his first NFL head coaching job to the Carolina Panthers (on January 11, 2011), becoming the team’s fourth head coach as well as the league’s second Latino head coach. There will be many more highlights of Riviera’s defensive coaching style to come! Since he was one of the first Latinos in the NFL, why not stay longer to deepen his footprint?
Gary Baxter – Franchise Owner (2), Burger King
Injuries might have resulted in Gary Baxter’s short NFL career, but his career as a business owner was far from being cut short. After playing for 8 years in the NFL, it was Baxter’s injuries gave him the time he needed to think and plan his football after-life. Having studied areas of businesses that interested him, Baxter decided to pursue the food and beverages business and has since then opened two Burger King Franchises. But, has he forgotten about what he learned in football? Absolutely not. Hard work, preparation and dedication are skills that Baxter has carried with him to the food and beverage industry. In addition, now that he’s boss in the game, he can put his leadership skills into play again! This time around, he has the significant responsibility to coach and motivate over 600 employees toward success – a much larger team than any of his coaches had to manage!
No matter what, even the best in the league – or in the game – have to retire at some point in time. Sure, the glorious touchdowns, tackles/hits, blocks, field goals and passes are precious moments. But as proven with these 5 former pros, retirement does not mean the end of a former football player’s dream, his prized memories and his passion. In the post-NFL world, there is much to look forward to! The more you look into it, the more buzz you’ll find in the success and happiness of retired ‘NFLers’!