With the Super Bowl fast approaching, do you ever wonder what becomes of football players after they reach the ends of their careers? Many go on to enjoy lucrative work in the public eye, but not all find glory beyond football. Many of our mystery authors present scenarios in which our beloved sports icons stray away from the limelight to pursue other ambitions.
Bill Hanrahan, the struggling alcoholic in Stuart M. Kaminsky’s Abe Lieberman Mysteries, starts out as a college football star, but when his bad knees throw him out of the league, he turns to a career as a homicide detective. Along with his new job comes a drinking problem that almost always causes issues during investigations. He eventually embraces sobriety and a new job as guard for a mob informant’s ex-wife and son in The Big Silence. When the ex-wife is murdered and the son disappears, Hanrahan’s demons threaten to return. With the help of his partner, Lieberman, he must find the young witness before it is too late.
Deviating from the typical style of his mysteries and thrillers, James M. Cain’s The Moth follows the extraordinary life of Jack Dillon after the Great Depression leaves him and his family destitute. He finds himself succeeding in a number of areas, including as a football player for Baltimore Polytechnic. But his career is derailed by a knee injury, and he must forge ahead after college without any prospects in professional sports. Despite the many hardships he faces, he continues on his journey to find happiness.
Although Collin Wilcox’s Lieutenant Hastings Mysteries take place in 1960s San Francisco, the football references don’t come from the 49ers, but from Hastings’s past. After a brief stint as a football player with the Detroit Lions, he turns to a career as a full-time alcoholic. His marriage fails and he leaves to rebuild himself as a homicide lieutenant with the San Francisco Police Department. Despite his reputation as one of the toughest policemen around, his past comes back to haunt him in The Lonely Hunter. His daughter, Claudia, arrives in San Francisco intent on following her hippie dreams to Haight-Ashbury. When she unexpectedly disappears, Hastings must confront his own issues in order to find her before she meets a more sinister fate.
William Campbell Gault’s Brock Callahan Mysteries center on a former football player for the Los Angeles Rams (a team now associated with St. Louis) who becomes a retired private investigator. Throughout the series, Callahan often comes across associates from his days as an athlete. Death in Donegal Bay reunites Callahan with Arthur Baker, a con artist who almost succeeded in swindling Callahan out of $5,000 when he was still playing for the Rams. When Baker returns years later to enlist Callahan’s help in an investigation, Callahan finds it easy to come out of retirement.
Charles Williams’s A Touch of Death and The Big Bite put former football players to the ultimate test as they face off against the criminal underworld. In A Touch of Death, washed-up, broke player Lee Scarborough is desperate for money. He agrees to go undercover for Diana James and recover the $120,000 that her now-missing lover embezzled from a bank—money that happens to be in the possession of the wife of James’s lover. Scarborough must find the money before he, too, disappears.
In The Big Bite, John Harlan deals with the end of his football career when he is involved in a car accident that leaves the other driver dead. Harlan is on a downward spiral when he receives news that the incident may not be as clear cut as he thought. An insurance investigator believes the driver was murdered after the crash, and Harlan works with him to clear his own name and return to his former glory.
We hope these ebooks will satisfy the emptiness the Super Bowl might leave behind. After you finish these mysteries, you may wonder what has happened to your own beloved former players.