Life after football: Three former NFL players to speak at Eastern Michigan University Nov. 28 about life after retirement from the pro game

YPSILANTI – Imagine how wonderful it must be to be an NFL player.

You practice with the best players in the world, become a role model for kids and young adults, receive powerful support from fans in America and million-dollar contracts with sponsors.

You often become the center of attention for extensive media coverage and celebrate the fame that comes from playing in the most popular sport in the U.S.

No wonder many forget that one sarcastic nickname for the NFL game is “Not For Long.”

Robert Turner headshot
Robert Turner

On Wednesday, November 28, 2018, Robert Turner, a former NFL player and the author of the book “Not For Long” will join with two former Detroit Lions: Ron Rice, a former defensive back and an EMU alumnus (class of 1995), and quarterback Eric Hipple, who has done widely acclaimed work in reducing the stigma of Depression.

The talk will be held at 11 a.m. at 213 Pray-Harrold and is free to all EMU students and community members.

On the way to the top, from playing high school football through college and into the NFL, players are left with little skills to serve them after retirement, Turner explains in his book. Most players don’t have a long-term contract and are being forced out of the field after only three or so seasons. Then, in real life, you are nobody’s hero. Many players struggle to make the transition to real life.

About 75 percent of former players experience some form of bankruptcy, and more than 60 percent are living daily with chronic pain, Turner says.

Turner, who played briefly in the NFL along with the defunct United States Football League and the Canadian Football League during the 1990s, earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the City University of New York. For his book, he interviewed 140 past and current NFL players to find out what makes the transition so hard. He provides insights about the life of a professional football player and gives his suggestions on how to improve life after football.

Joining Turner for the discussion is Rice, who is now a chairman of the board of the NFL Alumni Association and the president of the Detroit chapter. Rice graduated from EMU in 1995 with a degree in criminal justice and will share his own experience of finding his way in the world after finishing his professional football career.

Hipple spent ten years with the Lions after starring at Utah State University. His accomplishments include playoff bids and being named the Lions’ most valuable player for the 1981 season.

His book, “Real Men Do Cry,” is a story of tragedy and triumph. After his 15-year-old son died of suicide, he fell into a spiral. After going bankrupt and being jailed for drunk driving, Hipple found the strength to seek therapy for his own depression and was able to make an extraordinary comeback.

He now shares his journey, opening the door for others to realize that depression is treatable. The book offers practical resources for families living with depression and is a valuable tool for counselors and mental health professionals nationwide.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 19,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

November 27, 2018

Written by:
Michal Liberman

Geoff Larcom