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Pete Carroll calls for more support for retiring NFL players

pete-carroll

Pete Carroll utilized the unfortunate retirement of Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette as an opportunity to argue that the NFL teams have to do more to support players upon and after their retirement from the NFL, saying it’s critical to make sure players find a purpose in life when their professional football careers come to an end.

Lockette announced his retirement last week at the age of 29 in a news conference Carroll attended. The wide receiver suffered a frightening and ultimately career-ending neck injury during a game last season against the Dallas Cowboys while covering a punt.

Carroll has since spoken extensively about the obligation the league and its teams have for retiring players, including ones like Lockette whose NFL career came to such an abrupt end.

“When these guys are football players, they are football players from the time they are 8, 9 years old,” he said, via ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia. “And they grow up loving the game, believing in the game and connecting almost their life with the game of football. For all of us, it comes to an end. It stops somewhere. That identity, that just embedded connection with the game all of a sudden is over, in a sense, and you are not recognized as a football guy anymore, and the purpose of your life has been built around football.”

Carroll, while acknowledging that not every player requires assistance, cited a handful of members of the Seahawks organization who help retired players in need of help during their transition away from the game, specifically in helping them find “purpose” in their life beyond football.

“… I think that there is nothing more important than recognizing the tremendous value that these guys bring to the game, and not with just their play on the field but the spirit that they bring to it. We need to be there for them when they are done and help them connect and find whatever their purpose is, to live a great life after football.

Carroll added it’s not always as simple as finding a retired player a job, either, and stressed teams should bear a lot of responsibility to help them in any way whenever they need it.

A retiring player can encounter numerous obstacles upon retirement. Whether these issues are related to their health, or have a financial, legal or even psychological component, Carroll says the onus is on teams and the league not to cast them aside.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to make this transition … so we need to prepare them to get prepared,” he said. “You can’t do it, you can’t really face it until you get there. Like I said, some guys are fine. But the great majority of guys need to reconnect, and that’s what we are getting them prepared for. It’s everything from finance to counseling to culture shift. There’s just so many things that we are dealing with. We are just trying to elevate their awareness.”