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Gary Ellerson

Posts from May 2012

Life After Football
After hearing about Junior Seau's death, and then reading George Koonce's doctorial dissertation on the transition to regular life after the end of a football career, brought back memories of how I was not prepared to deal with the "real world" after I finished playing. This was probably the most depressing time of my life because I had no life skills to move on and find direction.  When I was released by the Detroit Lions, I tried to hook on with the Indianapolis Colts, only to flunk my physical due to a knee injury while in Detroit.  The flight home from Indianapolis to Milwaukee was truly a low point in my life.  I remember sitting around for almost a year, rehabbing my knee, and hoping that some NFL team would still give me a chance.  It never happened.  After that I decided to give Jerry Fishbain, the recruiting coordinator at UW-Madison during my days there and still affiliated with the university, a call.  He asked that I drive to Madison so that we could talk. As we were talking, I told him I needed a job, something to do.  He told me to go back to school, which I did not want to do.  He proceeded to ask me "what do you want to do?"  I honestly had no idea.  He asked if I would be interested in coaching football at the high school level, which I was.  He made some phone calls to Jack Charlesworth, Athletic Director at Brookfield East and Central High School.  That was my first post-NFL job. I progressed to being a Vice President at Big Brothers Big Sisters.  However, I still felt a void in my life.  After talking with Alan Zussman, academic advisor at Madison, I chose to go back to school and get my degree at age 40.  That has brought me to my current career at 1250 WSSP. Unfortunately, too many players get so consumed with the sport of football that they do not see past it.  They are then not prepared for life in the "regular" work force and what they are cable of becoming. The NFL and Colleges need to offer more training or guidance for the transition to life after football.  I was fortunate to still have the support and guidance from Jerry Fishbain and Alan Zussman.
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