For Pro Athletes, Retirement Is a Nightmare

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2009 8:25 AM CDT
Doug Glanville #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies swings during a game against the Mariners at the Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington, April 2, 2000.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Steve McNair’s death was a grisly illustration of the nightmare that retirement can be for pro athletes, writes former outfielder Doug Glanville in the New York Times. Though players are often told they’ll be set for life, “the pleasure of a hammock at age 35 only lasts so long.” McNair, like so many others, was searching for something, and fatally looked outside his marriage to find it.

By one count 80% of pros are divorced. “You’re a stranger to your own family,” Glanville explains. Players need to learn how to be hands-on husbands and fathers while struggling to "fill that void of competing every single day at the highest level." Glanville got sucked into an ill-advised real estate business, another common pitfall. There’s also a profound loneliness as your old support system—team, agent, union—move on. “As Steve McNair’s story showed, that isolation can even turn fatal.”