By Brian Cullen
» More columns
The career of the average NFL player is spectacularly short. In a period of time when most of us are just hitting our career strides, a lot of football players are hanging up the cleats. Case in point – I clearly remember a time when I thought of Jerome Bettis as being “so old.” This is when he was 33. To put this in perspective, I’m 30, and I own four shirts. FOUR.
But – there’s a lot of life to live after an NFL career is over. Of course, many end up going into a broadcast booth. Others take a less traditional route. Here are our top 5 strangest post-NFL careers. Be wary, sailor – there be puns ahead.
Affectionately known to some as “QB Eagles,” this marvelous, scrambling wonder is one of the most electric players to have ever suited up. Now, there are two ways we could take this entry: technically speaking, after retiring from football, his next career was… football. After taking off 1996, he joined the Vikings in 1997, where he enjoyed some of the best years of his career (including a 15-1 season in 1998). After the 2001 season, Cunningham turned his attention to religion, where he founded a Christian rap group named “Humility.”
Hey – let’s pause for a minute because that header is AWESOME. Anyway, Glen Coffee was a running back for the San Francisco 49ers for exactly one season. Combined with Frank Gore, they coulda/woulda/shoulda made for a hell of a stable of backs. But after his rookie season, Coffee hung it up, citing that his heart was never really in football. Today, he’s a paratrooper in the US Army, with aspirations of becoming a Green Beret.
After being one of the NFL’s most notable busts, Heath Shuler went in a different direction. From 2007 to 2013, he was a member of the House of Representatives, representing North Carolina’s 11th District. In other words, he went from passing to his receivers, to passing legislation. Eh? Eh?
As many have pointed out, when quarterbacks are taken back to back in a draft, they’re pretty much linked for life. Try talking about Ryan Leaf without Peyton Manning coming up. Or, just watch how Andrew Luck and RG3’s careers will play out. Such was the case with Rick Mirer and Drew Bledsoe. In addition to being highly ranked quarterbacks at the same time, now they both own wineries – Mirer owns Mirror Wines and Drew Bledsoe owns Doubleback.
Tony Mandarich was infamous in the late 80s and early 90s for being a brash loudmouth. Mandarich never really delivered on the field, in part because there was no way to live up to the hype surrounding him – especially given his well publicized use of steroids. However, Mandarich hit the road to redemption a few years later, and had three very respectable years with the Colts. In a “happily ever after” twist that nobody saw coming, Mandarich became a heck of a photographer, becoming so successful that he expanded his operation into the Mandarich Media Group, which specializes in Internet marketing, SEO management, and the like. Who saw that coming?
So next time you think your favorite player is headed for the broadcast booth – think again. There’s a big world out there, full of things to do.