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For Retired NFL Players, a Professional Reboot

 An expo for retired NFL players helped them reevaluate their professional careers.
An expo for retired NFL players helped them reevaluate their professional careers.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

NEAR WEST SIDE — When it comes to the newly retired professional athlete, Daniel Casteel has seen it all before.

“They take the first job that pays them the most money,” said Casteel, owner of Gone Pro, a career consulting firm that works with former pro athletes. “They try it for three to five years, and they don’t like it. Now they’re behind.”

Casteel led a two-hour session with 14 former professional football players at Carmichael’s Saturday morning, evaluating their personalities and resumes, and coaching them to find happiness in their careers.

The day included programs to help the former players update their resumes, determining their strong suits, and a mixer with business owners to help their networking skills.

The assessment helped Brian Glasgow identify why he was "burned" in some of his business deals.

"I was too trusting," said Glasgow, who played for the Bears in 1987 and now serves as a member of the NFLPA Chicago chapter’s board.

Today, Glasgow said he has three master’s degrees and once went into business with Mike Ditka. But he didn't know what to do once he was out of football.

"I know about 30 people personally who should be in this room," Glasgow said.

Some of the NFL vets in attendance weren’t satisfied with their current careers. Others were looking to bounce back after being affected by the economy. Others, like Marques Sullivan, sought to share their stories.

"I was never defined by the NFL," Sullivan said. But he did have “some road blocks" when his NFL career was over.

While in the NFL – he played three seasons with the Buffalo Bills – Sullivan’s agent referred him to a financial adviser. The adviser recommended premium services that drained his accounts. And when Sullivan could no longer afford those services, he was unceremoniously discarded.

"It's disgusting. I can't tell you what they did with our money," Sullivan’s wife, Veronica, told the group of players.

Sullivan started as a sales representative for a wine and spirits company. He then bought an American Basketball Association team that nearly lost him $200,000.

The couple is now "back at square one."

"Now we have goals. Marques wants to be an alderman," his wife said.

Sullivan’s playing career ended with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League, and he’s now found a career he loves as a teacher and administrator at Brennemann Elementary School.

As president of the Retired Professional Football Players of Chicago, Sullivan works to help its members succeed after their days of gridiron glory. Many former players are recruited for sales jobs because of their competitive nature, he said. But that doesn’t always translate to happiness or success.

"We're trying to give guys a new perspective on their career path,” said Sullivan. “There's a lot of uncertainty going from the playing field to the real world."