If you've never read Dave Meggysey's classic Out of Their League it's worth hunting down.
Head on over to Edge of Sports and check out Dave Zrin's Q&A with Meggysey and then dip over to the SI Vault and read Dave Remnick's 1987 profile:
As a pro with the Cardinals he earned a good living and the respect of his coaches. The people of St. Louis cared intensely what Meggyesy did with his Sundays. There were days when the game was pure pleasure. "I remember having an unreal afternoon against the Colts, stopping John Mackey," he says. "We'd played together at Syracuse. I wasn't out to kill him, but when the day was over, I just knew I had done the absolute best I could do. It was the feeling that I'd worked for all my life."
Then came the matter of leaving football after seven years in the NFL. Rejecting football was more painful than any injury. When Meggyesy grew disgusted with the game, he divorced it, thought hard about what he'd been through and, a year later, wrote a polemical book that made Jim Bouton's Ball Four seem as tame as The Red GrangeStory. Meggyesy wrote about alumni boosters contributing money under the table to college athletes, team doctors shooting up players with painkillers, coaches pushing athletes to play despite serious injuries, players cheating on their wives and organizing orgies, sadistic coaches treating players like dray horses, teams divided along racial lines. His candor did not make him loved. Of Meggyesy and another NFL "dropout," Oakland Raiders linebacker Chip Oliver, New York Jets coach Weeb Ewbank once said, "They fell for Communist hogwash and quit football. They joined organizations that will just cost us more taxes. These are the things that poison our young youth."
[Photo Via: Ken Kortas]