Abstract: Like many other elite athletes, National Football League (“NFL”) players typically have a short playing career, often leaving the league due to injury or lack of interest from teams before they have been able to prepare sufficiently for life after the league. This qualitative study examines the experiences of NFL players related to preparing for the transition out of professional sports. We completed interviews with a total of 25 players including both current and former players, as well as 27 family members of former and current players. Factors that affected their career preparation included features of the NFL work environment which necessitated an emphasis on football over other interests, identity foreclosure that made it difficult to consider other career options, limited exposure to other professions, and challenges with financial planning. Social contacts had both positive and negative effects on players’ preparation but family, particularly wives, provided important support. Our findings point to policies that might guide players in their preparation for life as former players including instituting mandatory training and counseling concerning these issues, beginning in a player’s rookie year, and continuing throughout players’ tenures in the league.