The NFL draft has come and gone. For many young football players, getting drafted is the culmination of a dream.
Most youngsters that grow up playing football dream of playing in "the league." Many think if they make it to the NFL that they will live a life of eternal bliss. Sadly, that isn’t true.
I have been to a dozen or so Super Bowls in my life. While I am there, I usually attend the seminar involving the former players, called The Gridiron Greats. During that time, I have learned that approximately 78 per cent of former players go through a divorce within four or five years after retirement.
When they go through that divorce, it hurts them financially. Many players don’t have the discipline or the job skills to get new employment to recover from that.
I have my own theory as to why divorce is such a common occurrence for many former players. One reason is that while they are playing, the players and spouses lead two separate lives. The player is training, traveling, playing and working. She is often at home raising young children. Often moves are made and it is up to the mom to physically and logistically handle the move.
Also, when many players retire, they can often go though a form of depression. Most of them have been playing football since the age of 7 or 8. They have always been a part of a team. It is their identity. When they retire, all of a sudden they lose their identity. In some ways it is like going through a death and a grieving process. They have lost the life they have always known. They are no longer playing the game they love and have always played. That can lead to a great depression which can impact a marriage.
The bottom line is that for all of those players drafted this past weekend, life in the NFL will not solve all of their problems, or provide everlasting peace and contentment.
In every NFL locker room, there are two groups of players for rookies to join. One group can lead down the wrong path, peronally, morally and financially. Another group often are the older guys, often married, usually involved in a team bible study or chapel program.
Here’s hoping that the young player that we know in the draft will use their NFL experience to better their lives and to grow as men, husbands and fathers.