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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Life after football: The struggles after playing days come to an end

By Ben Estes, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 29, 2012

The former battled through his depression thanks to counseling and has written an inspirational book partially based on his experiences, titled “Rays of Light: Volume 1, ‘Let There Be Light.’ ” Ray is now trying to get into broadcasting after enjoying an appearance on WTKA, a Detroit sports radio station, before the Michigan State game last year.

After the recreation supervisor job, Sword realized that he has a passion working with disadvantaged kids, and he has been teaching for the last four or five years, currently at a juvenile detention center.

“But it was hard now, I’m not saying it was easy, just trying to figure out what I wanted,” Sword said. “People were telling me all that I did (at Michigan), but I said, this doesn’t define who I am.”

***

It’s July 11, and Chris Floyd has learned that he didn’t get the job — the job that he came back to Ann Arbor for, that he thought was definitely his, based on how he viewed certain conversations he had with the interviewer. Instead, it went to a more qualified candidate, former Michigan track captain and Olympian Jeff Porter.

The department thought he would be too football-focused, he says, and that his references weren’t strong enough. One of them, Floyd is told, even hung up on the interviewer. (According to Floyd, when he followed up with the reference, it turned out there was miscommunication, and the reference apparently tried to call the interviewer back several times to no avail.)

“It doesn’t make sense,” Floyd said. “I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed, because it seems like when I left D.C. to come here, I was a shoo-in for the position.”

The rejection is nothing new.

“I’ve been in this boat before,” Floyd said. “I’ve been turned down for several jobs here at the University. I’ve never made it this far. I’ve never been interviewed for any job at the University and I’ve applied for a number of jobs.

“It’s disappointing, but I’m not going to hold any bad feelings or anything, because this is still my University. I still love Michigan athletics, football is still my family. It’s one of them things that is going to make me I guess tougher, because it does — you get kind of numb toward the rejection.”

But in the days after he found out that he didn’t get the job, Floyd took to Twitter and voiced his frustrations. His series of tweets read like this:

“Moved back from Ann Arbor three months ago because I was promised a job in the Athletic Department…I am a former student-athlete and national champion. After a promise and 3 months of waiting and interviewing and waiting more, they go and hire someone else…Leaders and Best? SMH. Still, my loyalty is with Michigan. I’ll always support one of my favorite people, Coach Hoke, any way I can. There is serious disconnect between the athletic department and the athletic alumni and they wonder why we don’t come or give back!”

Still, despite the setback, Floyd remained resolute and confident that he will find the job and career he desires. He insists that he’s at the point where he won’t be settling for anything.

“It’s just one of those things where somebody’s going to have to give you a chance, and if they take a chance on me, I won’t disappoint them,” Floyd said. “I’ve never had a job or left a job where, regardless of what it was, they felt like I didn’t do a good job.”

***

When cases like these emerge, it’s only natural to search for someone to point the finger at. But it seems too complex an issue for any one entity to shoulder the blame.

Should the Athletic Department or football program have done more to help the men when they were still playing? Floyd and Ray stop short of saying that.

Floyd says that he had to fight past some negative feelings about his football mentors while struggling in his post-football days.

“When my career ended, I couldn’t put together a resume,” Floyd said. “I didn’t have anything to put on a resume but football.


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