NFL Player Careers Take Off After Retirement

In the past for many football players, once their playing careers ended, they no longer had a way to stay involved with the game. Sure, some would go onto coaching or front-office positions, but the majority would have to get a “real” job and start a new career.

With the explosion of the NFL’s popularity and the continued growth of cable tv, many players are starting to pursuit broadcasting careers. There have always been broadcasting opportunities for a small number of former players such as Don Meredith and Frank Gifford, but the number of opportunities today is what makes a second career in broadcasting a viable option.

This season, games will be broadcast on NBC, CBS, FOX Sports, ESPN and NFL Network. Additionally, regional networks like Fox Sports Net, Comcast and Yes Network create opportunities that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Who’s better to give an opinion about football than a former player? They understand the intricacies of the game better than most and can relate their experiences to the broadcast. For me, I’d rather listen to a player share his knowledge than someone who’s never played.

Ask a 15-year old sports fan about Ron Jaworski and I’ll bet he mentions his role as an ESPN analyst rather than a former quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. The same thing goes for Hall of Famer Howie Long – he’s likely recognized more today as an analyst for FOX Sports than as one of the greatest defensive ends in NFL history.

Another opportunity for players lies with the NFL Network, which was created by the league in 2003. The network covers football 24 hours a day and features a number of former players as analysts, among them Marshall Faulk, Terrell Davis, Deion Sanders, Warren Sapp and Rod Woodson.

It seems that whenever a high-profile player retires, the first thing he does is launch a broadcast career. Tiki Barber signed a mega deal with NBC and Rodney Harrison announced his retirement the same day it was  announced he was joining NBC.

Recognizing the growing opportunities, the NFL now offers the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp for current and retired players aspiring to become broadcasters. The four-day crash course includes workshops on field reporting, game studio analysis, radio broadcasting and research. Among the “students” who’ve gone onto broadcasting careers are Tim Hasselbeck, Dhanti Jones and Derrick Mason.

And it’s not just players. Coaches are in high demand as well. Both Jimmy Johnson and Mike Ditka have enjoyed successful broadcasting careers since their coaching days. And Jon Gruden was recently hired as an analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football after getting fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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