What Are the Odds That These Top NFL Players End Up as Talking Heads?
The NFL is a bizarre world. It’s a 24-7 job that requires endless focus, hard work and dedication.
Players and former players have said for years that it’s like a fraternity, where everyone shares a unique connection with each other and with the game itself.
That’s why, for some, it’s difficult to leave the game when their playing careers are over. Some get into coaching, some get into broadcasting and others get into television roles such as on ESPN.
But being in front of a camera isn’t for everybody. It takes a certain kind of personality, charisma and desire to do so.
Here are 10 top NFL players and the odds that they will end up as talking heads once they’re done battling on the field on Sundays.
10. Steven Jackson
An extraordinary player for one of the league’s worst franchises throughout his entire career, Steven Jackson would bring a unique perspective to an NFL set.
He’s been through a lot with the St. Louis Rams. Since 2004, he’s never experienced a winning season, though his team did reach the playoffs in his rookie year. Nevertheless, he has remained one of the game’s top running backs and has never played any snap at less than 100 percent.
Because of his respect for the game and his understanding of, well, the hardships of playing for a losing franchise for so long, Jackson would offer a lot in terms of analysis and opinions. He’s professional and is soft-spoken, and if he decides to be a talking head, he’d likely show fans a side of himself many haven’t seen before.
Odds: 15 percent
9. Jeff Saturday
One of the smartest centers in the game, Jeff Saturday would be great talking football. TV stations are always looking for variety when it comes to former players, and having a longtime quarterback of the offensive line talking Xs and Os would be a treat for fans.
Imagine pairing Saturday with Peyton Manning in the studio. They’d probably take over the show and fall into their own little football-lingo world.
Either way, the All-Pro center has been around the game for so long and has worked with one of the smartest passers in the history of the league that he’d be great for TV.
It shouldn’t be long before Saturday, now with the Green Bay Packers at 37 years old, takes his final bow. He’s probably already considered how he’ll spend his post-NFL free time, but as of now, there are no hints as to whether or not he’d like to stay connected to the game in any way.
Odds: 20 percent
8. Arian Foster
After going undrafted in 2009, Arian Foster has since taken the league by storm as one of the best running backs in the NFL.
A big, agile runner with versatility and fluidity, the Texans’ star is still only 25 years old and should do a lot more damage to defenses throughout his career.
While he would be a terrific candidate to have on set to talk football, Foster is also an outgoing and intellectual person. He writes poetry, which can be found on his website, and he describes himself on his web bio as “a husband, father, poet, writer and thinker.”
Foster certainly has the charisma to be a talking head; however, it’s more likely he’ll focus his post-football attention on other areas of his life, such as family and personal hobbies.
Odds: 20 percent
7. Brian Urlacher
If Old Spice Swagger can really do that for Brian Urlacher, then he should have no trouble transitioning from the field to the ESPN set.
Urlacher has been an elite linebacker in the league ever since the Bears drafted him ninth overall in the 2000 NFL draft. An eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, he’s led the Bears’ defense both in production and in heart, becoming a fan favorite as a result.
Now that he’s dating Jenny McCarthy, according to Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times, he should become a little more comfortable with the camera.
Urlacher seems like a quiet guy off the field, but his stature in the league would be reason enough for him to chime in with quality commentary during NFL talk circles once he calls it a career.
Odds: 25 percent
6. Tom Brady
It makes sense that Tom Brady, commonly known as the poster boy of the NFL already, would keep his face (and hair) on camera after hanging up the cleats.
He's already established himself as one of the most successful passers in NFL history, so why not apply that expertise to an analysis role?
Like others on this list, Brady has already appeared in commercials and is no stranger to the spotlight.
Odds: 25 percent
5. Jared Allen
He likes the outdoors. He enjoys spear hunting. He rocks a mullet. And he's one heck of a defensive end.
Jared Allen’s wild playing style matches his wild personality. An easy-going guy always looking for adventure, Allen would be a great NFL talking head to spark conversation in the studio.
However, he could just as likely pack up a duffel bag and hit the wilderness for five years once he ends his career.
You just never know with this guy.
Odds: 40 percent
4. Troy Polamalu
TV personalities usually have that trademark quality about them, and for Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, it’s his hair.
After flying around on the field for so many years and producing at such a high level, Polamalu (not his hair) may want to stay involved with the game.
He already makes fun commercials for Head and Shoulders, and the TV world would certainly have a good time finding ways to incorporate his hair into NFL segments (“Polamulu’s Locks,” anyone? Trademark!).
Odds: 50 percent
3. Tony Gonzalez
It’s no secret that big, athletic tight ends are trending right now in NFL offenses: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jermichael Finley, Aaron Hernandez. The list goes on.
But Tony Gonzalez is one of the players that started this trend.
A record-holding tight end and one of the “good guys” that fans like to root for, Gonzalez has had himself a very bright NFL career. Though he’ll forever be a Kansas City Chief, he’s continued his success in Atlanta and still has a little bit left in the tank.
But when the day comes for him to stop playing, Gonzalez would be a great NFL talking head. He has a perfect personality for the camera, and his proven track record of success has earned him the opportunity to hang out in the studio should he choose to do so.
Odds: 60 percent
2. Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis has been an enforcer on defense for over a decade. A 13-time Pro Bowler and seven-time All-Pro, he’s one of the toughest linebackers to have played the game.
It’s not a stretch to think that he could be a similar enforcer in the studio or the booth.
The longtime linebacker has a strong, natural voice and is a vocal leader for the Ravens. After he's captained defenses for so long and directed traffic in the middle, it seems logical that he’d make a smooth transition to debating NFL topics with other NFL analysts.
Odds: 65 percent
1. Peyton Manning
On the field, Peyton Manning is all business. He prepares like a professional and commands perfection from his teammates.
Off the field, Manning likes to have his fun, too.
Between his frequent television commercials and hilarious Saturday Night Live bits, it’s evident Manning is comfortable being in front of the camera. And no one is going to question his knowledge of the game.
For these reasons, it’s very likely Manning could end up as an NFL talking head down the road. His life is football, and it only makes sense that he will want to stay involved in any way he can once he’s done tossing touchdowns on Sundays.
Odds: 75 percent