Wednesday, January 14, 2015

J. Holstein, R.S. Jones and G. Koonce's "Is There Life After Football?"

James A. Holstein is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University. He is the author, with Jaber F. Gubrium, of The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in the Postmodern World.

Richard S. Jones is Professor of Sociology and Faculty Athletics Representative at Marquette University. He is the author of Doing Time: Prison Experience and Identity with Thomas J. Schmid.

George E. Koonce, Jr. played professional football for a decade, the majority of those years with the Green Bay Packers, with whom he won the Super Bowl XXXI title. After the NFL he held positions as Senior Associate Athletic Director and Director of Development at Marquette University, Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Director of Player Development for the Packers, and Special Assistant to the Athletic Director at East Carolina University. Koonce is currently Vice President of Advancement at Marian University.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Is There Life After Football? Surviving the NFL, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Is There Life After Football? reveals facets of post-NFL life that will surprise most NFL fans. We already know about the sensational successes and failures some players experience when they retire: the millionaire media superstars on one hand, the tragic tales of Junior Seau, who committed suicide, or Warren Sapp who went spectacularly broke, on the other. But life after football is full of much more routine—yet daunting—challenges, such as those faced by Brandon Gold on page 99. The book isn’t an apology for spoiled players, but it does offer a window into their sometimes troubled worlds.

Gold had it all. As he tells us, he was a good looking white guy who signed one really lucrative NFL contract, won a Super Bowl, and made a Pro Bowl roster. So what could possibly be Gold’s problem? By his own account, his career ended with a whimper, not a bang. Injury cost him his blazing speed and no team signed him when his contract expired. He didn’t exactly retire, and he wasn’t exactly fired. He was just cut off from a dream he’d lived since the second grade when he’d decided all he wanted in life was to play in the NFL.

When Gold’s dream disappeared, he had no clue about what came next. He’s lived a decent life since then, making various “career moves” that haven’t exactly panned out. He doesn’t really have a job, nor is he passionate about much of anything. He’s depressed, aimless, lost. He shares this fate with hundreds of other former players. They experience a sort of culture shock that cuts them off from the camaraderie of the locker room, denies them the decadence of “livin’ large” with their fellow players, eliminates the comfort and security of having lives completely structured for them, and puts an end to the adulation of millions who exalt their “gloried selves.” On top of this, most former players feel the pain of the gridiron every day of their post-football lives. Gold is one of the lucky ones. He’s still relatively fit and active. But when he recently underwent a physical exam, his doctors looked at his full-body MRI and asked him, “What kind of car accident were you in?” Gold hadn’t been in a car crash; he’d been in the NFL.
Learn more about Is There Life After Football? at the NYU Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue