- Published on Sept 30, 2009
In order to learn more about retired professional football players and to obtain an accurate portrait of their current health and well-being, the National Football League (NFL) and its Player Care Foundation sought the expertise of several distinguished researchers at the University of Michigan to conduct a scientifically rigorous survey of retired players. The Michigan team conducted phone interviews in November and December, 2008 with a stratified random sample of 1,063 retired players and asked questions across a range of topics.
The questionnaire was designed to maximize comparability with established national surveys of the general population so that the characteristics of retired players could be compared with other men of the same age and race. Because their experiences are likely to be quite different, a comparison was also made between younger (age 30-49) and older (age 50 and older) retired players.
The study provided a wealth of information which will aid the study?s sponsors in their efforts to respond to the needs of retired players. In many ways, however, it also debunks popular myths and shows that some commonly held perceptions about NFL players are actually misperceptions.
Some of these myths have arisen, no doubt, as a result of isolated, high-profile events involving a few NFL players. This study of a random sample of retired NFL players paints a different portrait. It finds a group who are satisfied with life, who are, in general, well-educated with strong social connections to family, friends, and community.
Retired players describe themselves as very religious and spiritual and report significant amounts of care and giving to others. They are, by many other measures, much like average men their age in the general population. Of course, there are some differences, and this report offers insight into their nature and may raise potential areas for further study.
See full report (.pdf)Institute for Social Research