Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Old School Football Players: Where Are They Now?

Posted on July 24, 2018 by John Harris
Ronnie Lott

Ronnie Lott

Some football stars never leave the sport. After concluding his Hall of Fame playing career as a tight end, Mike Ditka became a Super Bowl-winning coach and then transitioned into the media world as analyst after he put down the clipboard.

Others follow a different path and disappear from the public eye. When they do, it’s easy to lose track of their whereabouts. But many of those who have seemingly fell off the face of the earth are now living truly fascinating lives.

From Silicon Valley and the big screen to entrepreneurship and the courtroom, the following four football players are worth catching up with even decades after they took off their cleats.

Ronnie Lott

Ronnie Lott was a hard-hitting safety known for striking fear into receivers who dared cross the middle of the field and quarterbacks that he blindsided sprinting across the line on a blitz. The Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl champion, and 10-time Pro Bowler for the San Francisco 49ers then made a very successful transition to the business world, leveraging investments in a few car dealerships into larger ventures and roles in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley with firms including HRJ Capital, GSV Capital Corp., and Fortress Investment Group. “He’s been a winner on and off the field and accordingly has earned enormous respect in Silicon Valley,” said GSV in a statement after the venture capital firm added Lott to its board of directors in 2015.

Carl Weathers

Though many people only know him as Apollo Creed and other prominent Hollywood roles on the silver screen, actor Carl Weathers first reached stardom as a football player. As a defensive end, he played college ball in Southern California for the San Diego State University Aztecs before going on to play in eight NFL games from 1970 to 1971. He didn’t quite have what it took, however, and made the tough choice to abandon his dream and switch to acting — a decision that now looks genius in hindsight. After earning a degree in drama in 1974, he gained global fame through his iconic performances in the “Rocky” franchise and would go on to earn acclaim for his work in “Predator,” “Action Jackson,” “Happy Gilmore,” and “Arrested Development,” among other films and television shows.

Tim Foley

Few NFL teams have ever been as great or memorable as the 1972 Miami Dolphins. They finished the regular season undefeated, at 14-0, then went on to win the Super Bowl over the Washington Redskins to cap off a dream campaign and win the Dolphins their first championship. To this day, it remains the only perfect season in the history of the league. Defensive back Tim Foley was one of the standout stars of the team throughout the 1970s, logging three interceptions during the undefeated season and later making the Pro Bowl in 1979. And even after he retired, he has continued to find great success off the field as an Amway Independent Business Owner for more than 30 years.

Alan Page

NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page was a fearsome defensive linemen who led the Minnesota Vikings to an NFL championship in 1969. He was the MVP of the NFL in 1971, made nine Pro Bowls, and dominated the line of scrimmage dating back to his time winning a collegiate national championship with Notre Dame in the 1960s. Even before he stopped playing, Page knew he wanted a rewarding post-NFL career and pursued his law degree from the University of Minnesota while still a member of the Vikings. He was compelled by his work fighting for labor rights as a Players Association member and later became a pioneering black attorney who argued in courtrooms in the state. Then, in 1993, he reached the highest level of Minnesota’s justice system and was named to the state’s Supreme Court. He served as an associate justice for more than two decades before retiring in 2015.

After the Game

Professional athletes — even those who played in older days — spend the bulk of their life in the limelight. As they age and start to lose the physical skills that made them special, some have difficulty transitioning to life after sports.

But these men have not. Carl Weathers only found true fame when he gave up the pads for Hollywood. Ronnie Lott has made waves in the investment world. Tim Foley spent decades building a successful Amway business of his own. And Alan Page has been an accomplished justice behind the bench in Minnesota.

Combined, they show that football players are much more than fast, strong, and fierce. For many, their second lives have been even more rewarding than what first drove them to reach such heights on the gridiron.

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