In the NFL, the quarterback position is the one that has the most star power. It makes sense, as it’s arguably the most important position in the game, and has had multiple legends at the position over the years. Players such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes are the biggest names in the league for good reason. Due to quarterbacks being the most important players in the league, they also stay in the spotlight after they end up leaving the field. From opening businesses off the field to being a coach, and becoming an analyst, retired NFL passers seemingly have their choice of what they want to do when their playing days are over.
UPDATE: 2023/09/06 18:00 EST BY SHAWN S. LEALOS
When successful NFL quarterbacks retire, they often get very high-profile jobs thanks to their initial visibility as the faces of their former franchise. That remains true with the most recent retiree. Tom Brady stepped away from the NFL after 23 seasons and seven Super Bowl championships. With that kind of success, there is no way the NFL will let him get away without becoming a contributor in his post-playing days. This has been true with several great quarterbacks, as Terry Bradshaw is still an NFL analyst, although there are others from the past, like Joe Montana and Roger Staubach, who took on other ventures after retirement.
14 Tom Brady: Entrepreneur
It seemed like Tom Brady would never retire. He played with the New England Patriots for 20 years and won six Super Bowls with the team, taking home the Super Bowl MVP Award in four of those wins. However, he left the Patriots and went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won another Super Bowl – and another Super Bowl MVP Award. He retired and then un-retired and played for three total seasons with the Bucs.
Since he retired, Brady hasn’t really done much in the way of working. He has done some television commercials and has endorsement deals, but it seems his goal right now is investments as an entrepreneur. He bought a minority stake in the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA and then became a minority owner of the English club Birmingham City. He also tried to become a minority owner in the Las Vegas Raiders. In 2024, Brady will start his new career as a Fox NFL color commentator, with a $375 million, 10-year deal with the network.
13 Peyton Manning: College Professor
For many years, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady battled for superiority as the best NFL quarterback. Brady won more Super Bowl titles than Manning, but Peyton still had two Super Bowl championships, winning the Super Bowl MVP one time. He also did what Brady did and won his last Super Bowl for a different team, leaving the Indianapolis Colts and winning a title with the Denver Broncos. He played for a total of 17 seasons before retiring.
Since his retirement, Manning has accepted induction into the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has also never remained gone for long, as fans see him all the time in television commercials for different products. Manning now co-hosts Peyton’s Place on ESPN, hosted a game show called College Bowl with his brother Cooper Manning, and hosted an alternative broadcast of Monday Night Football called Manningacst on ESPN2. He also just got a job as a professor at the University of Tennessee in the College of Communication and Information.
Tony Romo was once the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and helped lead the team to a lot of success, although he couldn’t lead them back to the Super Bowl. Despite his lack of post-season success, Romo was still a huge target when it came to working as a color commentator. This allowed Romo to follow in the footsteps of another former Cowboys quarterback in Troy Aikman, who was the highest-paid color commentator in the NFL until Tom Brady eclipsed his salary.
However, unlike Aikman, who signed at Fox and regularly commentates on Dallas Cowboys games, Romo signed with CBS to work as the color commentator for the AFC schedule. Romo has become one of the most popular NFL color commentators and is known for recognizing formations and accurately predicting plays before the ball is snapped. Romo also has several endorsement deals and takes part in several TV commercials. He is also a big part of the world of golf, qualifying for PGA events.
11 Jay Cutler: Entrepreneur
Jay Cutler retired as one of the best quarterbacks in Chicago Bears history. However, thanks to the fact he never won a Super Bowl with the team, he is often seen as a disappointment. Cutler was actually supposed to be the player that turned around the Denver Broncos franchise, but after three seasons with the team, including a Pro Bowl year, they traded him to Chicago. With the Bears, Cutler started for eight seasons and broke the Bears’ records for passing yards, touchdowns, attempts, and completions.
His career came to an end in 2017 after he played one year with the Miami Dolphins. After his retirement, Cutler settled in as a reality TV star on his wife Kristin Cavallari’s show, Very Cavallari. However, that ended when the two separated and eventually divorced. He has since become an entrepreneur, starting a subscription service named CUTS and a podcast called Uncut. He also launched the Gratis Brewing Company in Nashville in 2022.
10 Alex Tanney: Coaching
The least-known player on this list, Alex Tanney was an NFL player for nearly a decade. The quarterback was undrafted coming out of Monmouth but was able to stay around the league for a long time thanks to his great mind for the game and being an ideal backup.
In February 2021, Tanney announced his retirement from the NFL. However, he didn’t do it without having a job lined up. Tanney is currently the offensive control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and is going on his second season in the position.
9 Ryan Fitzpatrick: Amazon Analyst
Ryan Fitzpatrick might be one of the most legendary journeyman players in all of sports history. The former seventh-round pick from Harvard somehow stayed around in the league for 17 seasons and played for nine teams in that time.
Earlier this year, the gunslinger finally retired from the sport. Along with the retirement announcement, Fitzpatrick had some other big news, that he was joining Amazon. The former NFL quarterback currently serves as pre- and post-game analyst for Thursday Night Football, after Amazon got the rights earlier this year.
8 Josh McCown: Coaching
Similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown is another notable journeyman quarterback. The passer played 19 years of professional football and had memorable stints with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles, among other teams.
Although he’s never officially retired, McCown last played in 2020 and has since focused on coaching. While he’s only coached at a high school level, he was a finalist for the Houston Texans head coaching position earlier this year. Although that job went to Lovie Smith, McCown will likely be an NFL coach sooner rather than later.
7 Andrew Luck: Returning To School
Andrew Luck is one of the biggest “what-if” players in NFL history. Despite dealing with a poor coaching staff, a lack of talent around him, and brutal injuries, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL from 2012 to 2019.
Sadly, he abruptly announced his retirement in the 2019 preseason. Since that time, Luck has mostly stayed off the grid. However, Stanford coach David Shaw revealed in August that the former passer is returning to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Education.
6 Robert Griffin III: ESPN Analyst
Incredibly, ten years after the 2012 NFL draft, both the first and second overall picks are likely done playing. While Andrew Luck has officially announced his retirement, Robert Griffin III hasn’t, but he’s already decided to move on to a different career.
In August 2021, Griffin III signed with ESPN on a multiple-year deal. The former Pro Bowl quarterback not only works as an analyst but as a commentator. To his credit, Griffin III appears to be great at doing both jobs.
5 Ben Roethlisberger: Family Retreat Center
Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career was a wild one. With extremely high highs and very low lows, the quarterback finally decided to hang up the jersey in 2021, after playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers for nearly two decades. Now in retirement, Roethlisberger wants to do good in his community.
That aid comes in the form of the Roethlisberger Family Foundation, which he started. The quarterback wants to use the foundation to help families and is currently in the process of building a retreat center for families to use.
4 Drew Brees: NBC Sports Analyst
Drew Brees retired from the NFL after the 2020 NFL season, which meant he was able to leave the game on a high note. Before he retired, Brees and Tom Brady battled for the NFL passing records and Brees currently sits in second place for passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage. This meant that he was in high demand after he retired. It also helped that he retired after a successful 2020 season that ended with a tough playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Tom Brady as their quarterback.
After he retired, NNC hired him as a color analyst for Notre Dame games, a job he kept until 2022. This was when Brees went back into the sport itself. He signed on with his college alma mater Purdue as an interim assistant football coach in 2022. That only lasted one season, and now he has been spending more time with his family, although he also signed on as the NFL and IFAF Global Flag Football Ambassador earlier in 2023.
3 Philip Rivers: Coaching
Philip Rivers was a once-in-a-lifetime player. The former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback would light up the scoreboard one week and completely fall apart the next. Regardless of his play, he was talking trash the entire time.
He retired in 2021 after a one-off year as an Indianapolis Colts passer. After deciding to retire as a player, Rivers made the decision to help coach the next generation. He’s currently the head coach of St. Michael Catholic High School in Alabama.
2 Alex Smith: ESPN Analyst
Alex Smith’s career in the NFL can, and likely will be made into a movie one day. After getting beaten down as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, he turned his career around with the help of Jim Harbaugh and Andy Reid. Even after suffering a brutal injury in 2018 that could’ve ended his career, Smith fought on.
In 2021, Smith decided to retire, just months after winning Comeback Player of the Year. Despite coaching and playing offers, the quarterback has since decided to work as an analyst for ESPN.
1 Eli Manning: ESPN Analyst & New York Giants Assistant
During his NFL career, Eli Manning was a great player, who won two Super Bowl championships. Despite likely being a Hall of Fame shoo-in, it was difficult for him to get out of the shadow of his older brother, fellow star Peyton Manning.
Since retiring, Eli Manning has decided to do a bit of everything. The former New York Giant works for the team, in business operations and fan engagement roles. To go along with that, he has his own television show Eli’s Places, on ESPN. Manning even does commentary for Monday Football with his brother, dubbed ManningCast.