The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, January 12, 2004

AFTER THE LAST WHISTLE
not for long
Everybody knows that professional athletes have it made. We all read about the multi-million dollar contracts they get for playing a kid's game. With money like that, they're set for life.

Or not. When the average NFL career lasts only three-and-a-half years, the majority of players have to start over in the workforce in their mid-20s or later.

Yeah yeah, I realize it's hard to feel sorry for some lunkhead who was making a 6- or 7-digit salary right out of college and couldn't manage to save any of it. Not to mention the free ride to college and at least the opportunity for a degree. But when you're set on a career path at a very early age, usually before your teens, and find it over before it's really started, it's jarring for anyone.

"Careers are what doctors have, what lawyers have," [former Buccaneers offensive lineman Jorge] Diaz said. "The NFL is just an opportunity to make a lot of money in a short period of time. Then what? You're left to figure it out on your own."