When the Clock Runs Out: 20 NFL Greats Share Their Stories of Hardship and Triumph

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9781572434370: When the Clock Runs Out: 20 NFL Greats Share Their Stories of Hardship and Triumph

Through one-on-one interviews, archival photographs, and evocative photo portraits, this collection explores the bittersweet stories of some of the NFL’s most famous men, including John Brodie, Tom Brookshier, Mike Ditka, Hollywood Henderson, Ron Jaworski, Ronnie Lott, Dan Reeves, Ray Rhodes, and Pat Summerall.

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About the Author:

Bill Lyon has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer for 27 years, is the author of several books, and is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He has won more than 80 national and state awards, including 11 Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year awards, and he has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize five times. Cynthia Zordich is a professional photographer and the wife of former NFL cornerback and safety Mike Zordich.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"...Michael has played in the league for eleven seasons now. We have never taken one of those seasons for granted, nor have we ever seriously discussed the notion of one of them being the last. We always figure that we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. This off-season the question being asked of Michael is, 'Zordich, you comin' back next year?' His answer has been a consistent, 'I plan on it.' And yes we are-- planning on it, hoping for it. Right now, I'd say we are blowing more and more air into the bubble and getting ready to shut our eyes when it pops. Lots of people have asked me what Michael's going to do when he retires, But lately, I take this question as a personal attack, as if they're suggesting that he is done. When they ask me his age, I imagine them calculating how many years he has left. My guard is constantly up and I know why. I'm running scared. The fact is, Michael would like to play forever. The fact is, nobody does."
-- From Blowing Air Into the Bubble by Cynthia Zordich, wife of veteran Safety Micahel Zordich

"Let go? The ex pitcher Jim Bouton, in his seminal baseball memoir, Ball Four, wrote the epitaph for every professional athlete when he arrived at this poignant, bittersweet conclusion: 'I spent my whole life gripping a baseball, and in the end I found out that all along it was the other way around.' Let Go? Hardly. Retire? Yes. Grudgingly though. With wrenching reluctance. Kicking and Screaming all the way out the door.

More than one of them has vowed: 'They'll have to tear the uniform off me.' Unfortunately that can be arranged. The athlete is the only member of our society who has to die twice. The professional football player makes a faustian bargain with society. He is given a glorious half-life and then just as he is coming into his prime he finds himself ripped from the protective, insular cocoon of a team and dropped, unceremoniously, into the real world. Hero to zero. Just Like that.

The great hockey player Gordie Howe once said, mournfully: 'They teach you how to play the game, but they don't teach you how to leave it.' That's one of the purposes of this book."
--From Letting Go by Author Bill Lyon

"I sat in my car in the parking lot at 4:30 in the morning and that's when it hit me. It's over...I just remember sitting there in the car by myself and crying."
--Rocky Bleier

"What do you do with the rest of your life--when you can no longer do what you were born to do?"
--Ron Wolfley

"I couldn't exist without football."
--Mike Ditka

"This isn't like any other goodbye you'll ever say. People who never played the game can't understand it. This isn't something you can just turn off. It's not like closing a door."
--Tommy McDonald

"Football leaves, and when it does it leaves a hole in you. If you let it happen, you'll start feeling sorry for yourself. You have to find a purpose for living."
--Ronnie Lott

"I don't know if I could have just walked away from the game...I'm not sure what I would have done if I hadn't been able to stay in football."
--Ray Rhodes

"'My high school coach once said,'Stick your foot in a bucket of water, then take it out. The hole that's left is how much you'll be missed.'"
--Todd Christensen

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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