By Jeff Pearlman, published on May 1, 2004 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
Claim to fame: All-time leading rusher in Baylor
University history. Played six years with Pittsburgh Steelers, one with
Philadelphia Eagles before retiring.
Smart move: During final season, began to accept that his skills
were diminishing. In 1988 accepted internship at American Football
Claim to fame: Top American fencer starred at Penn State
before representing U.S. in '96 Olympics.
Smart move: Despite temptations, retired after Olympics to study
Second act: Heads Chiropractic Care Center in Charlotte, North
He says: "When you quit, you have this void because
you're stopping a huge part of your life -- probably like losing
a spouse. I got and held onto a vision of the way I wanted things to be.
I focused on [seeing] people get well."
Mariah Burton Nelson
Claim to fame: Star forward for Stanford
University women's basketball team in late 1970s, went on to play
professionally in Europe and in WBL, first U.S. professional league for
Smart move: Excellent student who knew her basketball career was
only a gateway to another profession.
Second act: Wrote five books on sports (including Are We Winning
Yet?: How Women Are Changing Sports and Sports Are Changing Women), past
president of National Speakers Association.
She says: "In my early years after basketball, I realized if
I didn't do something soon about my dream of becoming a writer, I
might never do it. I feel very fortunate that I had another talent to
Claim to fame: 1990 NCAA Women's Volleyball Player
of the Year; four-time All-American; member of 1996 U.S. Olympic
Smart move: Despite lucrative offers to continue career overseas,
took job as reporter at Sports Illustrated.
Second act: Documentary filmmaker in Southern California.
She says: "I was never one of those who loved their sport so
much they couldn't see themselves doing something else. I wanted to
travel overseas, but not to play."
Claim to fame: Hall of Fame quarterback; played in
four Super Bowls with Dallas Cowboys.
Smart move: Bypassed opportunity to stay in pro football as
announcer or coach.
Second act: Started and runs The Staubach Co., a commercial real
estate firm with 50 offices worldwide.
He says: "I had three kids, so I was more motivated to have
an alternative life in case some linebacker took my head