NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some U.S. football legends play their entire careers without getting close to acquiring a ring for winning the Super Bowl. Others like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has won four, do not know what to do with them all.
Whether they have tasted the ultimate sporting success or not, most famous players do not start out living the high life. With Super Bowl fever ramping up and a new jobs report due, Reuters asked a few NFL players how they began their careers, before they became champions.
Two rings with New England Patriots, now a TV sports analyst on ESPN
First Job: Dishwasher
“My first job was washing dishes at a restaurant in Ashland, Virginia called the Ponderosa. I had just turned 16 and figured I wanted some money for myself, so I went in and they hired me on the spot. They didn’t pay me much. I spent it all on things like sneakers and cassette tapes by R&B artists like Keith Sweat.
“At the time I was hitting a growth spurt where I grew six inches and gained 60 pounds in one year, so what I remember most was sneaking a whole lot of mac and cheese. My boys and I would sit back there in the kitchen and just eat. It was the best -before I married my wife, that is. Now her mac and cheese is clearly the best.”
Two rings with New York Giants, now on the team’s injured reserve
First job: Corn shucker
“I grew up North Andover, Massachusetts, and in the neighboring town there was a business called Barker’s Farmstand. In the summer of seventh grade, I became a corn shucker there. It wasn’t just corn shucking, though - I had to perform other miscellaneous tasks like moving irrigation pipes, which is the worst thing ever, and tagging calves’ ears, which is a messy job.
“I especially enjoyed getting all the free corn I wanted. I also developed a respect for pure manual labor. Mr. Barker was 85 at the time, so I’m sure he’s passed away by now, but his farmstand is still there. It even has a four-star review on Yelp!”
Three rings with New England Patriots, now an NFL Network analyst
First job: Youth counselor
“When I was a kid in Long Beach, California, we all kind of grew up at the local park. It was our safe haven.
“When I was around 15, I actually became a counselor at that park for a summer youth program. All of a sudden I had to be accountable and responsible. There were times that I didn’t want to go to work, but my mother and father always made sure that I showed up and did what I was supposed to do. I got a sense of being a part of something bigger than myself.
“I think I got minimum wage and spent most of it on candy. The funny thing is that, even though I have won a few Super Bowls, I still have people come up to me who remember me from those youth programs.”
Three rings with San Francisco 49ers, now the team’s ‘Director of Alumni’
First job: School janitor
“In the eighth grade I made $99 a week working at the elementary school in Thomasville, Georgia. I washed desks, rearranged classrooms, and mopped the halls. It’s been renamed and remodeled since then, but everyone in Thomasville knows it, because for some reason it has a big turtle out front.
“It was a coveted job because it was indoors. You have to understand Thomasville is in the Deep South, close to Tallahassee. All the other kids were outdoors, where it was so hot and humid, and I was inside chilling with nice air conditioning.
“My side job was at a farmers’ market, unloading big baskets of produce like butternut squash and fancy okra. I remember the first time I made $100, I asked my boss if I could get it in a single bill. For a young black kid in the south, back in the 1970s, making $100 in cash money in a single night was a big deal. I just stared at that bill all the way home.”
Editing by Beth Pinsker and Bill Rigby