5 Former Professional Athletes Who Became Successful Businessmen

American Football on FieldThere are plenty of stories about athletes who have gone flat broke shortly after retiring from their respective sports (Curt Schilling, Mike Tyson, and Mark Brunnell are just a few of them). Stories of failure create more buzz for mainstream media and bloggers, but the guys who successfully transitioned from athlete to entrepreneur deserve equal (if not more) coverage.

Rick Mirer, Former Notre Dame and NFL Quarterback

Mirer is known more for his 29-7-1 record at Notre Dame than his journeyman career in the NFL. After being draft number-2 overall by the Seattle Seahawks, Mirer finished his career with a 50-to-76 touchdown to interception ratio, playing for 7 teams. Today, Mirer owns Mirror Wine Company in Napa Valley. He also started the Mirer Foundation, which helps children in need in his hometown of Goshen, Ind.

Lincoln Kennedy – Former NFL Offensive Lineman

Kennedy played in three Pro-Bowls and Super Bowl XXXVII, and has transitioned nicely into his role as a Farmers Insurance agent. He protected quarterbacks throughout his career, and now offers “all-pro protection” to his customers out of his Phoenix office. Kennedy said Oakland Raiders fans particularly enjoy having him as their insurance agent. He played seven years in Oakland, a city known for its very passionate (and interesting) fans. Kennedy earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communication after his career, which helped him land a studio host position at the NFL Network.

Magic Johnson – Former NBA All-Star

There is no way to give Magic the praise he deserves in a few sentences with regards to his NBA playing days, nor his subsequent business success. A five-time NBA champion, Magic was honored by American Express in 2004 for all his life’s achievements, and was even a spokesman for the company in a 1999 ad campaign. Pushing new business credit cards was just one of many ventures Johnson used to accumulate his reported net worth of over $500 million.

Mike Ditka – Former NFL Tight End and Head Coach

The fiery and high-energy coach has dabbled in everything from broadcasting to politics since his days as head coach of the Chicago Bears ended. He considered running against Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, but was coaxed out of it by his wife. She specifically did not want him to harm their very successful Mike Ditka Restaurants chain. Ditka regularly appears on Chicago-area radio shows and currently works for ESPN on its NFL pre-game shows.

George Foreman – Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Foreman displayed his powerful punching style to two generations of boxing fans. He lost his championship belt to Muhammad Ali in the historic 1974 “Rumble In The Jungle,” and regained it 20 years later (at age 45) against Michael Moorer. Today its hard to find a household that does not have a George Foreman grill in it. Businessweek reported Foreman had earned over $240 million as the grill’s namesake.

February 20, 2013