NFL players have it made, right?

You know, playing a game for millions of dollars, where you get to be financially stable for life?

Well, maybe not.


The average NFL career lasts three and half years. And what comes after isn't always easy.

And this is one of GOOD gigs. Michael Strahan doing the left shark with Kelly Ripa for an episode of "Live with Kelly and Michael." Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images.

Nearly 16% of former NFL players declare bankruptcy within 12 years of leaving the league. The truth is, pro football retirement can be a tough road; for some, it's even tougher than taking a hard hit when you're not expecting it.

Some former players have found a second wind after pro-football — although they're not all doing what you might expect. After all, there are only so many ESPN broadcasting or NFL head coaching jobs out there.

Here are 15 former NFL players with surprising new careers:

1. Kareem McKenzie, psychologist

I'd sit down and share. Photo by NFL/Getty Images.

That's right, the former 11-season Jets and Giants outside tackle would rather talk it out than take you out these days. He's currently studying at William Paterson University in New Jersey, all in the name of helping other former football players and armed servicemen make healthy transitions in their lives.

2. Myron Rolle, neurosurgeon

From brining the pain to alleviating it. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

Rolle only had a short stint with the Titans in 2012 but still made history, being one of only three people to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and also play for an NFL team. He's currently studying at the Florida State University College of Medicine and also has found the time to establish the Myron L. Rolle Foundation, looking to help the underserved in health, wellness, and education.

3. Bill Goldberg, WWE wrestler and actor

Goldberg took a jackhammer to post-NFL challenges. Here in 2005 with his wife, Wanda. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Any list of retired NFL players would be incomplete without Goldberg. He has called his football days a "dream come true" despite being plagued by injury from 1990 to 1995. He wasn't a huge fan of wrestling at first, but after Sting and Lex Luther urged him into the ring, he never turned back.

4. Bradley James Pyatt, CEO of MusclePharm

Pyatt stretching before a game waaaaay back in 2004. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images.

Yes, we've moved from professional wrestler to professional businessman. Pyatt found his new career after his use of sports supplements as a Colts wide receiver left his bones weak. The idea for MusclePharm was born, and now Pyatt has a whole new way to make millions.

5. Wayne Chrebet, assistant vice president at Barclays

He played for the Jets, but we won't hold that against him. Photo by Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Images.

You've probably heard of Barclays, the giant financial institution headquartered across the seas. Chrebet made his way to Barclays via Morgan Stanley — after his 11 years with the Jets as a wide receiver. These days he handles the rock on behalf of hundreds of clients, whose combined assets total around $1.5 billion.

6. Tony McGee, CEO of HNM Global Logistics

From hauling in passes to hauling freight. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

This former tight end for the Bengals, Giants, and Cowboys took his never-give-up attitude into his post-NFL career. He started with a real estate company, which he was happy with — until the 2008 recession hit. After the crash, he ran a successful roofing company until he overheard someone telling him just how much contracts in the shipping industry go for. Now he owns his own freight company, which earned more than $1 million in its first year.

7. Dan Marino and Damon Huard, founders of Passing Time

Grape Expectations. Photo via Passing Time, used with permission.

If we were handing out awards, Marino and Huard would no doubt get the Elegance Award. These two former Dolphin QBs (Huard was actually the backup QB to Marino) decided to open their own winery outside Seattle in 2010. Though the winery is neither Marino's nor Huard's main source of income, they're looking to get closer to profitability by 2017.

8. Eddie George, Broadway actor

"It's all show business." Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Performing under bright lights should be no big thing for George after playing running back for the Oilers, Titans, and Cowboys for nine seasons. His role as Billy Flynn in “Chicago" in January is just a new chance for him to shine.

9. Erv Randle, Chevrolet dealership owner

Photo via Erv Randle, used with permission.

The former middle linebacker for the Buccaneers and the Chiefs is no longer looking to stop drives, he's trying to start them. Randle purchased a Chevy dealership in southern Oklahoma in the hopes of having a "long-term" relationship with the community and made the official announcement in October, according to the Lawton Constitution.

10. Dorsey Levens, film, TV, and stage actor

Looking like a celeb as far back as 2007. Photo by Steve Grayson/NFL for Weber Shandwick (St. Louis)/Getty Images.

Levens took acting lessons while he played for the Green Bay Packers as a running back. He is known for his role in "We Are Marshall" and now as a leading role in "Madea on the Run," created by Tyler Perry. He also finds time to run a youth sports training and mentoring program called I Am Momentum, headquartered in Atlanta.

11. Keith Fitzhugh and Haskel Stanback, Norfolk Southern Railway

All aboard the "follow your dreams" train with Keith Fitzhugh. Photo by NFL Photos.

Fitzhugh made headlines back in 2010 when sports analysts thought he went off the rails and declined an offer from the New York Jets, instead choosing to work at Norfolk Southern Railway as a train conductor. Fitzhugh, currently a terminal superintendent, and Stanback, a running back for the Falcons in the 1970s, have had long and successful careers with one of the nation's oldest transportation companies.

12. Ed Newman and Tony Nathan, judge and bailiff

Tony Nathan running in a little ol' thing called the Super Bowl, back in 1985. Photo by George Rose/Getty Images.

Our next ex-NFL duo are former Dolphins teammates who live in sunny Florida, holding court and hearing the cases of drunk drivers, robbers, and drug offenders, according to The Miami Herald. Newman, a former guard, offered Nathan, a former running back, a job as a bailiff after Nathan worked coaching stints at professional, collegiate, and high school level. Nathan accepted, and they've been keeping order in the court ever since, The Miami Herald reports.

13. Ricardo Silva, high school geometry teacher

It's all about the angles. Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images.

Another surprising career choice is that of Ricardo Silva, who played safety for the Lions and the Panthers from 2011 to 2013. Last year, he decided to join the ranks of Teach for America as a geometry teacher in a Washington high school. He recently told CNN that teaching is harder than football ever was.

14. Michael Strahan, TV host

Getting your morning started since 2010. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Baby Buggy.

If you haven't heard of any of the players on this list yet, your waiting is over. Strahan's reasons for being successful post-NFL is better said by Strahan himself: “When you're a 20-something-year-old athlete and you're getting a six-figure check every week, you're not thinking about next week. You're not thinking, 'I'm going to be broke,' or 'I'm going to need another job.' But I'll tell you, there are a lot of broke athletes out there — I know plenty — and I didn't want to end up as one," Strahan told The New York Times.

15. Hines Ward, restaurant owner (among other things)

Trading the Steel Curtain for napkins. Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images.

In August, the former Steeler, Super Bowl MVP, and current NBC analyst opened a restaurant in Pittsburgh, called Table 86. Ward said he built the restaurant to create jobs and say thank you to the people of Pittsburgh, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

These are inspiring stories. But not every player knows how to handle life after football.

Luckily, there are resources out there. One of those is NFL Player Engagement, an NFL department focused on the wellness of former and active players, which helps players plan for a stable — ideally prosperous — second career. This NFL department offers trade courses to help players become electricians, plumbers, or carpenters, and runs a program called Bridge to Success, which offers peer-to-peer mentorship in the transition out of the NFL.

Charles Way, a vice president at the organization and a former New York Giant Full Back, says it all starts at the beginning. “We want players to start preparing for retirement as soon as they walk through the doors as a rookie," he says.

In a world where watching heroes crash and burn is as enticing as the latest superhero blockbuster, it's refreshing to see people who meet the challenge — and rise above it.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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