We'll say this much: Trevor Pryce is an interesting fellow.
The former Ravens defensive lineman penned a column for The New York Times this weekend, the point of which was to say that being retired at age 37 is boring.
This is no doubt a fascinating piece of work. No less than Jason Whitlock, the Fox columnist who revels in his belief that he tells all of the most difficult truths, gave it a shout out on Twitter. And it's true that Pryce gives us a very vivid idea of what happens when the games are gone.
Perhaps most antithetical to our perception of pro athletes is the revelation that few of his teammates ever call. He's not close with any of them. Sports writers are, of course, as guilty as anyone for creating the idea that teams are "cohesive units" that thrive on "chemistry." These concepts aren't completely bunk, of course. A team playing well is almost always in sync. It's just that whatever magic exists on the court or field or rink stays on the court or field or rink. Athletes are paid so much money these days that they become empires unto themselves. There's no need for a real support system away from the office. The era of Johnny Unitas getting together with his wide receivers over some burgers and Bohs in a suburban back yard is long, long gone.
Pryce is careful to say that he wants no one to feel sorry for him, which is good because it'd be very difficult to. His days, he tells us, consist of working on his tennis serve and getting his kids to school and surfing the internet and then taking his dog -- yes, his dog -- to daycare. He says that he's still healthy and able to run quickly -- a rare, rare thing for a man who spent more than a decade in the NFL's trenches -- and that he is financially secure. He's a producer, the tagline of the column tells us, and the author of a forthcoming novel.
What Pryce offers is really another version of the well-worn careful-what-you-wish-for genre. Here is a man who lives what many of us would consider a dream life. Yes, he sacrificed much physically to reach this point. But by most standards, he came out unscathed. And he also avoided the trap that so many young pros fall into and somehow managed to plan well for his future. On my desk at The Sun's office sit two giant heaps of paper detailing lawsuits filed against current Ravens offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie for failing to pay back almost $5 million in loans he took out to help him survive during the NFL lockout. He's in danger of having his wages garnished this season and, because he will turn 33 in the September and is certainly not getting any quicker, he's also clearly in danger of being broke on the day when he realizes no team in the league has a use for him any longer.
So Pryce is lucky. And he seems to realize that. But he also admits to feeling listless, useless. If his column proves anything, it's that Pryce has insight and empathy. He's a bright, critical thinker. He has a lot to give.
If he really needs ideas on what to do next, there's no shortage of people who could put him to work helping out in Baltimore's city schools. Maybe the NFL could use him as an example this fall when rookies show up at camp, dreaming not of stashing money in an IRA or 401k but of buying a BMW and a Benz. Or maybe Pryce can go to work fighting for those who left the NFL debilitated and stand to receive very little in the way of financial help from a league that became a multi-billion dollar behemoth thanks to thousands of players who toiled mostly anonymously and for only a short time.
There's plenty for Trevor Pryce to do.
And because he's young and healthy and wealthy and lucky, he should.