NFL or 'Not For Long'? Transitioning Out of the NFL

Journal of Sport Behavior, Vol 42, No. 4, p. 461, 2019

32 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2019

See all articles by Sarah McGraw

Sarah McGraw

The Hastings Center

Chris Deubert

D.C. United

Holly Fernandez Lynch

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Alixandra Nozzolillo

Harvard University

I. Glenn Cohen

Harvard Law School

Date Written: December 3, 2019

Abstract

Like many other elite athletes, National Football League (“NFL”) players typically have a short playing career, often leaving the league due to injury or lack of interest from teams before they have been able to prepare sufficiently for life after the league. This qualitative study examines the experiences of NFL players related to preparing for the transition out of professional sports. We completed interviews with a total of 25 players including both current and former players, as well as 27 family members of former and current players. Factors that affected their career preparation included features of the NFL work environment which necessitated an emphasis on football over other interests, identity foreclosure that made it difficult to consider other career options, limited exposure to other professions, and challenges with financial planning. Social contacts had both positive and negative effects on players’ preparation but family, particularly wives, provided important support. Our findings point to policies that might guide players in their preparation for life as former players including instituting mandatory training and counseling concerning these issues, beginning in a player’s rookie year, and continuing throughout players’ tenures in the league.

Keywords: NFL, NFLPA, Career Transitions, Identity Foreclosure, Athletic Identity

Suggested Citation

McGraw, Sarah and Deubert, Chris and Lynch, Holly Fernandez and Nozzolillo, Alixandra and Cohen, I. Glenn, NFL or 'Not For Long'? Transitioning Out of the NFL (December 3, 2019). Journal of Sport Behavior, Vol 42, No. 4, p. 461, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3497163

Sarah McGraw

The Hastings Center ( email )

Garrison, NY 10524
United States

Chris Deubert (Contact Author)

D.C. United ( email )

100 Potomac Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20024
United States

Holly Fernandez Lynch

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Alixandra Nozzolillo

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

I. Glenn Cohen

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts Avenue
Griswold Hall 503
Cambridge, 02138
United States

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