No, I’m not talking about me (too young and too poor). I’m talking about professional athletes and what they choose to do after retirement. The NBA estimates that over 60% of players go bankrupt within 5 years of retirement, but what do the rest do? Many athletes who made sound money management decisions go on to start businesses or run charities.
LeRoy Butler is probably most famous for inventing the Lambeau Leap while he was the starting safety on some of the great Green Bay Packers teams in the 90s. Butler is a great example of an athlete who had a successful career and is now trying to make a difference off the field. Butler has sponsored the Go Pink Soccer Series in Wisconsin, a series of 88 high school girls soccer games that has raised over $100,000 for breast cancer charities in the last two years.
Butler doesn’t just lend his name to the cause. Although he is a resident of Jacksonville, Florida, Butler makes appearances at many of the games in the series, signs autographs and makes an event out of the games. I was fortunate to referee one of the Go Pink Soccer Series games last night where Butler made an appearance (I’ve reffed soccer since I was 12 as a side job). He happily posed for pictures, signed autographs and talked with the players, fans and refs and seemed to really enjoy himself. I asked him if he could do a Lambeau Leap into the high school stadium bleachers but he said “he didn’t want to crush anyone.” He couldn’t have been a nicer guy.
Its great to see an athlete using his celebrity to help out a great cause and enjoy it. Butler could have been in sunny Florida last night, but he was in wet, windy Wisconsin on a Tuesday night watching a high school girls soccer game and enjoying every minute of it. It would be great to see more athletes follow Butler’s example.