From winemakers to neurosurgeons, these 15 former NFL players got a second chance and a new career.

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.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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