Former NFL Linebacker, George Koonce, called into The Norris and Davis show to talk about his difficult transition from the NFL and what could be done to help other players with that transition.
Koonce retired from the NFL in 2000, and had a diffcult time away from the game. In a guest column he wrote on ESPN, he admitted to trying to get commit suicide by crashing is car, and said it was a combination of things that pushed him to that point.
“Basically it was a cumulation of getting involved with sports when my mom got me involved with Pop Warner when I was nine years old. So that was part of my identity from nine years old until thirty-two, and I tried to be the best football player I could be. So when that was taken away from me I felt that I didn’t have anything else to live for. I felt like a part of me died,” he said.
Koonce said he did not talk about concussions in his article because he felt that there were players who had concussions throughout their careers and have managed to do well after they retired.
“When you look at Troy Aikman he had a history of concussions,Steve Young, and they haven’t committed suicide and Troy Aikman is one of the best broadcasters we have on television right now, and Steve Young is doing a great job at ESPN,” he said.
However, Koonce said that some guys may not be able to handle the transition from football well, and said players should be educated earlier on what to expect after they retire.
“The earliest point n a player’s career you can get him to start thinking about the transition, before the transition, the better the player is going to be when he leaves the game,” he said.
Koonce suggested that players should be forced to set money aside for after they retire, because at 22-years old they aren’t thinking about their future.
“You give a young man who comes from some of the worst communities in America, at 22, 23 years old when you get that man a check for a million dollars, or five million dollars, what good is going to come out of that?” he said.
Koonce played nine years in the NFL, eight of them for the Green Bay Packers.