The saying “work hard, play hard” definitely applies to football players. Football is an incredibly brutal game that puts the players’ bodies through the wringer on a daily basis. NFL players also tend to be very well paid. The average salary is around $1 million, with the big stars making much more.
During the off-season and when they have downtime, NFL players like to relax just like the rest of us. But with a big income and all the free time of the off-season, they can also find some more unusual or more exciting hobbies. This post is going to dive into some of the hobbies that are popular with NFL players.
Athletes and gambling go hand in hand. There is one major restriction, however — NFL players aren’t allowed to bet on NFL games, and they can get in big trouble if they do. They can bet on other sports, however. Recently, the temptation to bet on football games proved too great for Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons. He has now been suspended and may lose millions in salary. That’s a very expensive bet.
Poker is particularly popular with football players. For people who work as part of a team, it must be a nice change of pace to play a game that only depends on themselves. Some of the top NFL players that love poker are Sammy Watkins, Emmitt Smith, and Richard Seymour.
NFL players are often seen playing all sorts of casino games, from slots to table games. One type of gambling that many people overlook, despite it being so popular, is scratch card games. Some online casinos now offer classic scratch card games alongside all their other options. We haven’t heard of any football players winning big on scratch cards, but we wouldn’t be surprised if some of them pick a few up from time to time.
Star NFL players are great showmen. Their performances on the field and the personas that they cultivate help them generate a following. Marshawn Lynch, for example, was not only an amazing running back but his love of Skittles and his refusal to give press conferences when he didn’t feel like it made him popular even with non-fans.
Many NFL players turn these talents for performance into an acting career once their football careers are over. Among the biggest NFL stars to become movie stars are Alex Karras, Jim Brown, Carl Weathers, John Amos, and of course Terry Crews. We also can’t forget Marshawn Lynch either, as he’s made several guest appearances on sitcoms and now has his own Netflix show in production.
For some athletes, physical sports just aren’t enough. Esports allow football players to enjoy a competitive hobby that doesn’t require a bunch of physical activity. Boston Scott, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Jay Ajayi, a former Eagle, have both been signed to professional esports teams. They aren’t the only ones who have embraced esports. Max Verstappen, the Formula 1 star, plays sim racing games to keep his skills up during the off-season.
Some players have taken it a step further and invested in esports teams. While this might not exactly seem like a hobby, the very wealthy can treat investments like fun activities. Plus, investing in esports shows that the players are really interested in them and have followed the teams.
Philanthropy is a great way to learn about NFL players and what they care about most. Some start their own charitable foundations while others donate their money and time to support charities that they believe in. Among the players who make philanthropy, a major hobby is Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and now the Denver Broncos. He started the Why Not You Foundation and has worked with a number of food delivery services to make sure that children in need are able to access food. His work even earned him the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award in 2020.
When we say flying, we don’t mean that NFL players don capes and soar around even if they are a lot of people’s heroes. One of the more extreme hobbies for some NFL players is getting their pilot’s license and flying for fun. Tom Brady was apparently inspired by his wife Gisele Bündchen getting her helicopter pilot license and quickly went and learned how to pilot. While many NFL players learn to fly small planes or helicopters, some players learn to fly more unique planes, such as Jimmy Graham, who has a license to fly seaplanes.
Main Image Credit: