While he waits for his—probably inevitable—enshrinement, Doleman, 48, golfs whenever he can, usually at courses near his suburban Atlanta home. He picked up the game early in his NFL career, after Minnesota teammates Allen Rice and Alfred Anderson told him to ditch basketball in the off-season. (You don't want to blow out a knee, they advised.) In his retirement Doleman has won a few celebrity tournaments, and he regularly plays in Michael Jordan's invitational in the Bahamas. Though he's a four handicap, Doleman has no aspirations (like fellow class of '85 alum Jerry Rice) to play professionally. He doesn't have the time to dedicate himself to the sport, but "it's a true passion," he admits.
When he's not on the links, Doleman runs a technology marketing company called Gateway Fusion. One of its most popular products is an antimicrobial used in NFL and college locker rooms. "A few years ago, the league had a problem with staph infections, and this is a product that was introduced," he says. "You've got to keep that stuff from spreading." The company will soon bring to market an oil-eating product, planned for use in the Gulf of Mexico. "The more you can help," Doleman says, "the better you feel about yourself."
A Packers pancake-maker in the '80s and '90s, he's found post-NFL serenity in the sound of a school bell
After he retired in 1996, Ken Ruettgers asked himself, "Who am I now?" The answer eluded the longtime Green Bay left tackle. He had graduated from USC with a degree in business before joining the NFL; he had worked for four years toward an M.B.A. at Cal State--Bakersfield during the off-seasons; he knew his career could end at any time. But finding a new identity "still took a few years and several bouts with depression," Ruettgers says.
He moved his wife, Sheryl, and three children (all now in college) to Sisters, Ore., where he took an entry-level job at the same publishing company that had printed his book, Home Field Advantage: A Dad's Guide to the Power of Role Modeling, in 1995. "It was the first time I'd had a normal job, or worked in a coed environment," Ruettgers says. Six months into that three-year gig he was promoted to editorial director. "And I realized," he says, "I can do this."
Ruettgers's own crisis inspired him to launch a nonprofit organization, Game's Over, to help former athletes transition after retirement. "They think they're set for life," he says. "And then they get to the other side and didn't make as much as they thought, or spent more than they should have. They think, I've put my ladder on one skyscraper and climbed all the way to the top. Now I've got to do this again?" Encouragement and education, Ruettgers says, go further than anything else, and he's writing a second book, called Life Beyond the Game, which is due out by the end of the year.
He earned his doctorate from Oxford Graduate School in Dayton, Tenn., in 2007, with a dissertation titled Barriers to NFL Career Transitions. Today Dr. Ruettgers teaches sociology, including a Sports and Society class, at Central Oregon Community College. (He also coaches linemen at Sisters High.) Most of his students know about his playing days, but some do not. One kid, conversing before class with Ruettgers about football, mentioned his hatred of the Packers. "So I go, 'Oh, really,'" Ruettgers says. "When class started, I decided to tell them a little about myself, that I played for USC, that I played in the NFL. I look at the kid and say, 'And guess which team I played for?' It certainly breaks the stereotypes, and I like having fun with it."