Like many, I was saddened to learn about the death of Junior Seau, who allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest at the age of 43.
Much will be made about the possible connection between his death and the recent emphasis placed on the deleterious effects of the multitude of hits football players take, and, of particular concern, the rash of concussion-related impacts. Similarly, much will be made of the similarity to former chicago Bears Defensive Back Dave Duerson. According to Boston.com, "Duerson shot himself in the chest on Feb. 17 -- a method used so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head."
However, a little less emphasis is placed on the transition from work to post-work, aka retirement. Junior Seau had significant difficulty making that move. In August of 2006, he announced his first retirement from the San Diego Chargers. Four days later, he resigned with the New England Patriots. In January, 2010, he retired for a second time; this time for good.
Junior Seau isn't the only one. In a New York Times article a couple of weeks ago, former New York Jet Trevor Pryce describes his post-NFL life:
Pryce goes on to say:During my 14 years in the N.F.L., my favorite day was Monday. As long as I wasn’t preparing for surgery or being released, Mondays were special. They signified that I had made it through another week and was ready for another opponent. Even the soreness was oh, so sweet.How I miss those days.Now my Mondays go something like this: Work on my tennis serve; take a conference call with a Hollywood executive; get my three children to school; browse my favorite Web sites, none of them involving football; check my Words With Friends; and take the dog to day care.By then, it’s only 10:30 a.m.Welcome to the life of the secure and utterly bored former professional athlete.
Having retired way before my time, I have started to lose focus and drive. I’m retired from the game I loved. I’m retired from the perks, like getting a table instantly at my favorite restaurant. And I’m retired from the N.F.L. brotherhood. Passed by. At times, I feel ostracized....
“Early retirement” sounds wonderful. It certainly did that cold night in Pittsburgh. I was going to use my time to conquer the world.....
With millions of Americans out of work or doing work for which they are overqualified, I consider myself lucky. But starting from scratch can be unsettling. If you’re not prepared for it, retirement can become a form of self-imposed exile from the fulfillment and the exhilaration of knowing you did a good job.....
My guess is Seau faced the same cadre of issues as Pryce did. But, unlike Pryce, he found the lack of support, the missing adulation, etc., too hard to handle (Significant armchair psychologist going on here)During the six-month off-seasons, I pretty much educated myself, dabbling in music, Hollywood, journalism, real estate and everything in between, with varying degrees of success. I was able to do a lot in so little time. Now that I have all the time in the world, it’s amazing how little I accomplish every day. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Most times not.
As Pryce noted, many are looking for work. Others want to retire, but cannot afford to. But, the economy is starting to improve; 401(k)s are growing (crossing fingers), and many will finally decide they have had enough with work and are ready to move on.
What are you doing as an HR manager to assist employees in this move? How could we avoid having more Junior Seaus in our own life experiencing?