Facing a New Life After the Stadium Lights Dim

NFL Players have to reimagine their lives, too—and it’s tougher then you might think. Now a new collaboration between AARP and NFL Player Engagement helps them through it

Freddie Scott, a former star wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts, has had more than his share of painful life reinventions. “I’ve gone through the struggle of transitioning out of the NFL twice, he says. “My dad played [in the NFL] and I experienced his transition and we all did as a family—how he had to redefine who was he after the playing career was over and after the Nike shoes stopped coming and everyone stopped asking for the autographs. And then I had to do it again myself as a player—living the dream and then having to transition out and find that identity of who I was.”

This coming Sunday, as the world focuses on the frozen slugfest between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks in the first ever polar vortex Super Bowl, few fans will give much thought to one of pro football’s nagging questions: what happens when the cameras turn away for good? But maybe they should. After all, the average player's playing experience ends by age 28; what do they do next after a life of conditioning, training and playing football at the highest possible levels? To help come up with the answers, Life Reimagined and NFL Player Engagement are teaming up to kick off a wide ranging, unique program designed to assist current and former players in all ways as they transition to life off the playing field.

The idea: take the sophisticated tools and resources of Life Reimagined—many of the same ones already helping millions of readers and users in life transitions– and apply them specifically to the needs of NFL players. While these former stars may face the prospect of 180-degree life and career changes earlier then most of us, their struggles are universal: the need to reconnect with family, to reestablish friendships and relationships, to find transferable skills and interests that can pave the way for new careers. These extraordinary athletes struggle with “next steps” just like the rest of us.

NFL Player Engagement has selected three former players—Keith Elias, Donovin Darius and Ed Reynolds—to work hand in hand with experts from the Life Reimagined Institute. These former stars will be using proprietary tools from LifeReimagined.org to determine their greatest strengths and life goals, and to transition to life outside of football — and show others how it’s done. And we’ll be following them every step of the way, with regular video vignettes in this space tracking their progress.

“Knowing I can do other things just as successful off the field as on the field was a challenge,” says Scott of his own post-NFL odyssey. Since he retired from football in 1999, he has launched and run Unlock the Champion, an organization dedicated to supporting fatherless youth, and has become a national spokesperson for Tony Dungy’s organization All Pro Dad. Adds Scott: “It was a long journey, but I’m thankful I had people along the way to help me and I didn’t have to walk that journey alone.”

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