The career of an athlete can often be a relatively short one. For the lucky few who make it as a professional, they can hope to have 15-20 years at the very most at the top of their game. With this in mind, is it any wonder that pro athletes work hard to get the most lucrative contracts and endorsements they can?
The idea is to work and play hard so that when they hit their 40s, they can retire in comfort with enough money to look after their family. But that’s where the problem lies. 40 is quite early for retirement and, rather than let boredom set in, some athletes have simply decided to opt for a new career outside their sport.
Here are a few that made that leap and who are glad that they did and, no, we’re not going to mention Gretzky, although he is doing great work building awareness of heart health.
Richie McCaw – Helicopter Pilot
Richie McCaw is a rugby legend. He captained the All Blacks 110 times, played for them on 148 occasions, and won two Rugby World Cups. It’s safe to say that McCaw has had his fair share of adrenaline-filled adventures. Perhaps for a normal person, but McCaw is anything but normal.
After he hung up his boots, the former All Black captain decided to pursue a career in the air. He obtained his helicopter pilot license while playing and now runs Christchurch Helicopters. As a sporting legend, most assumed he’d get into coaching or media, but McCaw had other plans and now flies commercial flights and sightseeing tours.
Boris Becker – Poker Player
There are quite a few athletes who have taken up poker after leaving the field of sport, but one of the most famous is Boris Becker. He was the world number 1 tennis player and won the first of his six grand slam titles at the tender age of 17. He was also the world player of the year in 1989. If you’re of a certain age, then you’ll remember him on the Wimbledon court.
After he retired, Becker pretty much tried his hand at everything. He did media, coached Novak Djokovic for three years, and even tried clothing design and manufacture. But he came back to his second love (after tennis) of poker. He plays professionally and, while he makes a little money at the table, the greater part of his cash comes from endorsements.
Tomas Brolin – A bit of everything
The Swedish footballer was a bit of a cult figure at many of the clubs he played for. His best period was with Parma in the 1990s when he won the UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia. He was also a part of the Sweden team that came third in the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
Since he retired, Brolin, through necessity or boredom, has tried a bit of everything. He had an Italian-Swedish restaurant that got him into a spot of bother with the authorities. He also was into real estate and even invested in a vacuum cleaner company. He got into pop music for a weird get-together with Dr Alban before taking up poker like Mr. Becker above. We reckon he’s not quite finished yet either.
Shaquille O’Neal – Policeman
He may be one of the greatest basketball players to have ever lived, but did you know that Shaq is a reserve policeman? It’s quite bizarre, but when he was made an honorary deputy marshal while playing in 2005, he took a liking to the work.
When he retired from the court, he took up a position as a reserve police officer in South Florida. He actually had the same role in LA and Miami previously. We’d love to see him on an episode of Cops, but that’s just wishful thinking, right?
Gavin Peacock – Pastor
Peacock was the captain of Chelsea Football Club for a few years in the 1990s. He was an impressive midfielder who once finished as top scorer at the club with 14 goals. After he retired, a life in punditry seemed on the cards, but then he found his calling as a preacher.
He had already started preaching towards the end of his career and hosted a few TV shows on the subject. He then moved to Canada where he was set to study a Masters in Theology before he became a pastor. He co-authored a book on gender roles titled The Grand Design and now spends his time preaching in Canada.
Ramon Vega – Trader
Vega was a talented footballer who played for Celtic and Tottenham Hotspur. He had a relatively successful career and was admired as a cultured center-half. But he always fancied himself as a bit of a financial whiz and it seemed that he was.
Upon retirement, he got into the financial industry and started trading and investing. Incredibly, his post-football career has seen him earn more money than at any point in his days as a pro athlete. According to reports, he is worth £15m. Wow.
Adrian Dantley – Crossing Guard
He’s an NBA legend, a six-time NBA All-Star, and his name is in the Hall of Fame. He has amassed a fortune that many of us could only dream of. That wasn’t enough for Dantley, who admitted feeling bored during his retirement.
So what did he do? He took up the vacant role of crossing guard at a local school. He said himself that it was a good way to get out of the house and to meet people. He also feels like he’s giving something back to the community. What a great guy!
There’s an honorable mention for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwayne Johnson, and Terry Crews who moved from sporting careers into superstardom as actors in Hollywood. Not really much of a leap from sport to the screen though is it? We’re actually more impressed by the likes of McCaw and Dantley who went for under-the-radar jobs that just made them happy.