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The End of Autumn

This article is more than 10 years old.
autumnAlmost 30 years ago, in the wake of his five-season career as a pro football player, Michael Oriard decided to write a book about his life in the game.

At the time he was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Oriard was already studying to become an English professor, and in his book, The End of Autumn, he contends that he always thought of himself as a graduate student who was playing football rather than a pro football player who was taking some graduate courses. Hence Oriard’s take on how players handle their inevitable separation from the game comes from an unusual perspective; he’d begun separating himself from football while he was still playing.

Today’s pro game is more thoroughly televised than the game Oriard played. It is exponentially more lucrative, too, and the players are bigger and faster than Oriard’s teammates and opponents were, so the collisions between them are more likely to result in serious injury. But the reissue of The End of Autumn still feels relevant, and much of what Oriard has to say about his former profession is provocative, particularly his contention that “the mediocre” are “blessed,” because they have a much easier time adjusting to life after football than do the wealthiest, most accomplished players. He also advises against “caring too much about football.” Needless to say, this is not a book most NFL coaches will want their players reading.

This program aired on September 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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