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Famous 40-year-old retiree Peyton Manning. John Leyba — Denver Post via Getty Images

Here’s What NFL Players Do After They Retire

Feb 03, 2017

After this weekend's Super Bowl, the 2016-2017 football season will come to a close, with a new champion crowned. And with that ending, chances are, will come player retirement announcements.

Last year's big assumption was that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would retire, and it turned out to be true. He still publicly spends his time on our TVs, but now only in commercials. Based on reports during this year's Super Bowl week, players considered likely to retire include Falcons defensive end Dwight Freeney, who's about to turn 37, and famed quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tony Romo, whose teams didn't get as far as the Super Bowl this year.

With all the extra time on their hands sans practices, games, and travel—and with most of them not even 40 yet, much less 65-plus—how will these men spend their time? LinkedIn compiled data from 3,000 retired NFL players who have profiles on their site to answer this question. About 20% will open their own business, with another 18% moving into sales. Seventeen percent pursue something athletic, such as coaching, and only 5% go into broadcasting. Those retired for more than 20 years are most likely to be entrepreneurs, with newly-retired men more likely to still be working in the sports field.

Many players carry their sports brands into their post-sports life by adding their names to their businesses. Emmitt Smith, who spent most of his career as a running back with the Cowboys, is now the CEO of Emmitt Smith Enterprises, a Dallas-based firm that works mainly in the real estate and construction realm. Jack Brewer, a defensive back who retired from the Cardinals after being a captain on three different NFL teams, went to business school and now owns an investment firm, The Brewer Group.

(Click here for more articles from Time Inc.'s Looking Forward series.)

As for the companies that employ the most retired players, Stryker (syk), a medical technology company that makes items like replacement hips and knees, takes the top spot. Many of the players may have had exposure to the company because of injuries during their football careers. Jerome Bettis, a retired running back for the Steelers, once worked for Stryker as a brand ambassador. ESPN, the Disney-owned sports network, nabs second place with commentators including former New York Giants defensive star Michael Strahan, who appears on both the ABC and ESPN networks.

Business majors are pretty common in NFL locker rooms, and two major finance institutions, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, take the 3rd and 4th spots. Two-time Super Bowl defensive back Kurt Schultz is a vice president at Merrill and has been there since 2003. Brad Delusia, also a two-time Super Bowl contender as a place-kicker, works at Morgan Stanley.

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