Last Tuesday, I was invited by HBO to come into their beautiful New York City studios and catch the premiere of State of Play: Happiness. It is the first of a four-part documentary series directed by renowned filmmaker, Peter Berg. Berg, along with producer and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Michael Strahan, put together a terrific piece on what life is like for players who leave the game they love.
In the film, Berg and his team follow around and interview Brett Favre, Wayne Chrebet and Tiki Barber, as the three ex-NFL stars give a behind-the-scenes look at what their lives are like. Without giving away anything, it is a story of reinventing themselves and finding who they are without their true passion. For Barber and Favre, they chose when they could walk away, while Chrebet was forced out of the NFL due to concussion problems.
State of Play: Happiness, also focuses on the medical reasons for what makes us happy. What triggers in our brain to give us a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction? For those men, what in life can replace the feeling of walking out in front of 80,000 screaming fans on a Sunday afternoon?
"These guys have such an incredible experience with the brotherhood that they have with their teammates," Berg said. "The brain chemistry we talk about in the documentary with dopamine that gets released in your brain, all that stops. We look at the challenges for these guys, trying to figure out what to do a year after (retirement) and nobody cares. The phone is not ringing."
For some many millions of people, an enjoyable occupation can last a lifetime, or at least until you are truly ready to retire and live out the golden years. For men of the NFL, a league which allows players an average career of under four years, there is no such exit.
I strongly urge you to tune in to State of Play: Happiness, at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday on HBO. Berg has put together a terrific series, State of Play, that is worth sitting down for.