Jan 25, 2017
Post-Career Care

Image by Paul Cutler

Shifting from working as a professional football player to everyday life is a challenge. Along with needing to use different skills, health and wellness require a new outlook than they did in the NFL.

Enter The Trust, which was established by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) in 2013. The Trust provides a support system for former players. Rather than focusing on issues they may have had while in the NFL, The Trust addresses the transition into life off the field. Its focus areas include: brain and body health, personal interaction, career transition and development, financial literacy, and education and entrepreneurship.

“Throughout the collective bargaining process, active NFL players were committed to setting aside resources for professional programs and support to help them succeed in their careers beyond football,” DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFLPA, said when The Trust was launched. “We are proud that we can begin implementing that important vision through The Trust.”

The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine is one of four medical facilities within the U.S. that was chosen by the NFLPA to take care of former players regarding the brain and body pillar of care. The other Trust medical clinics are the University of North Carolina Brain and Body Health Program, Cleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital Brain and Body Program.

Tulane’s clinic provides three days of behavioral, neurological, and comprehensive physical evaluations to help former players establish a new health and wellness plan.

“Generally, what we see is these guys have a hard time transitioning from being a professional athlete back to normal everyday life,” Greg Stewart, MD, Tulane’s Director of Sports Medicine, Director of the Brain and Body Program, and an Associate Professor of Orthopedics, told WWL-TV (New Orleans, La.).

One of the goals of Tulane’s program is to help former players get the check-ups they need but may put off.

“Coming out of the game of football, you realize that it was a job, and it was great, but then it’s not really the majority of people’s reality,” said Jabari Greer, a 10-year NFL veteran who has visited The Trust clinic at Tulane.

“It provides you with a safe atmosphere, anonymity, as well as gives you the benefits that you need moving forward,” he continued.

The assistance at Tulane’s Trust clinic extends beyond the physical. Mental and psychological well-being are also emphasized.

“Having the resource, the psychosocial, the mental health resource in The Trust is so critical because it helps you hash out a lot of the issues that you may not even know that you’re dealing with,” said Jenna Rosen, PsyD, a Clinical Psychologist at the Tulane Trust clinic.

Since its founding, The Trust has served about 300 former players. Dr. Stewart is proud of the work they’ve done as part of the program at Tulane thus far and looks forward to helping many more former players in the years to come.

“The team that we’ve assembled, we truly feel like this is our calling — that this is part of what we’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “So for us, it’s very exciting,”

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