From the moment they experience a first win, football players are bred to live the all-American hero tale of guts and glory. If they make it to the NFL, that tale comes true quadruple-fold, and they begin to thrive in it. But what happens when the clock runs down on an epic career? What’s “business as usual” to follow a life that’s been anything but ordinary?
HBO Sports explores life after the NFL in the season premiere of “State of Play.” In the opener, NFL legends Brett Favre, Wayne Chrebet and Tiki Barber discuss the challenges to find happiness once their careers ended. Although their paths were varied, there’s one recurring theme throughout: Athletes die twice. Once when their sports careers end and again when they physically die.
Peter Berg, executive producer of “Friday Night Lights,” partnered with NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan to examine the science of happiness. In athletes, nuerological receptors trigger feelings of happiness associated with being part of a brotherhood, and the rush of feeling the adoration of 80,000 in a stadium. In turn, the loss felt when these happiness triggers are taken away can be devastating.
The new season of “State of Play” kicks off tonight on HBO Sports at 10pm ET. It’s the first of four episodes to come. “Broken,” “Culture Shock” and “First Ladies” will also examine more aspects of athletes’ lives beyond the field. With the massive success of “30 For 30,” the series should be well-received by an audience already invested in high-profile sports documentaries.