Emmett Cleary retired from the NFL to become a doctor

detroitlions.com

Last month Lions offensive lineman Emmett Cleary announced his retirement at age 27, but he didn’t say why he was walking away. Now he has said why: He’s going to medical school.

Cleary told ESPN he started to realize he was always going to be just the guy fighting for a roster spot and a league-minimum salary, and so he decided he wanted something more.

“It’s a tough league, and most guys don’t get to [walk away on their own] for whatever reason,” he said. “But let’s not . . . I’m not Jason Witten here. I’ve been a fringe player for years and years and years. I’ve been cut plenty of times. Yeah, the league was going to be done with me at some point, so I’m not too hung up on the way it ended. I hope Joe Thomas got a little more press than me this offseason. That’s truly walking away on your own terms. I’m on the minimum.”

Cleary will start medical school at USC in the fall, and for now he’s in Chicago working as a research assistant and data analyst studying physical therapy and brain function.

47 responses to “Emmett Cleary retired from the NFL to become a doctor

  1. Man, what a class act this guy is — how refreshing!!. I have no doubt he’ll be a great doctor down the road.
    Think about him and then think about Jason Kelce for a moment. They epitomize two ends of the spectrum in so far as NFL players go.
    Cleary realizes he’s a mediocre player who would be better served to chase his other dream which is to become a doctor. He epitomizes class and humility.
    Kelce is a very good player who is a classless moron.
    Good luck to you Mr. Cleary!!!!

  2. This is exactly the way athletes should approach scholarships the NFL etc. Great Job

  3. Good for him I don’t know nothing more that what this says about him but thats great do what your heart say Yea can alway be a fan of Football & maybe someday be a team Dr

  4. “I hope Joe Thomas got a little more press than me this offseason.”

    While he deserves more press, it is still nice to read any positive press the media is willing to share.

  5. Very inspiring story. Good on him for leaving what most would consider a dream job in order to achieve personal happiness. I wish him all the best!

  6. “…he’s in Chicago working as a research assistant and data analyst studying physical therapy and brain function”

    Uh oh, NFL. goodell’s nemesis.

  7. A man with a plan. Like Witten and Thomas, he is going out exactly on his own terms.

  8. Definitely a better story than most of these athletes seem to have Not only is he facing a cold reality with maturity and grace, but he is also using it to do something positive for the world. Hard to argue medicine isn’t a noble field. Good luck to you young man – rooting for you in your second career.

  9. CONGRATS!! Great story. That’s what I’m talking about. Though he made league minimum over the years, he will be able to finance med school and when it’s all said and done, he will be able to help people the rest of his career.

  10. nyneal says:
    May 13, 2018 at 5:47 am
    Man, what a class act this guy is — how refreshing!!. I have no doubt he’ll be a great doctor down the road.
    Think about him and then think about Jason Kelce for a moment. They epitomize two ends of the spectrum in so far as NFL players go.
    Cleary realizes he’s a mediocre player who would be better served to chase his other dream which is to become a doctor. He epitomizes class and humility.
    Kelce is a very good player who is a classless moron.
    Good luck to you Mr. Cleary!!!!

    awww someone butt hurt. So because Kelce is one of the best at his position and just won the SB he is a classless moron. Maybe only too bro … he is loved in Philly. Maybe you should re read what the story is about

  11. To be truly great at something you have to completely submit to it….usually to the detriment of being a complete person. Good on this guy to follow his new dream.

    Good luck Cleary!

  12. This guy hasn’t made millions like many other star NFL players but I bet those star players will be broke before this guy is. I wish the NFL had more guys like this. It’s refreshing.

  13. Good on him for having a plan outside of football that helps others as well. Plus the money he’s saved up from his career should probably get him through school.

  14. He’s got a great head start with the NFL money he made so he shouldn’t end up with the huge student loads most doctors do. Nicely done.

  15. “If I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes … now that would’ve been a tragedy.”

  16. That’s former Cowboy Matt Cleary, so proud to be a fan of America’s Team. Cleary is a stand up dude and you have to have intelligence to play on the oline, but even I didn’t realize he was this smart. Kudos to him.

  17. If it was a planned choice why wasn’t it given at or before retiring instead of a month later?

    The simple fact is he only got into 7 games last year because of two other guys (Wagner and Lang) being injured, and this coming season there’d be 3 guys ahead of him. And more importanly he had recurring ankle troubles that flared up a lot last year.

    I’m fed up of reading about people who claim they made the “choice” on “their own terms”, when they merely reacted to a huge roadblock ahead before they hit it. But good luck in med school.

  18. Streetyson, I see where you’re coming from, but I guarantee this was planned. I’m a surgeon. Getting in to medical school isn’t like going to technical school. It requires years of prerequisite courses, an admission test, and an extensive application. Once complete, there are individual interviews in the fall. He’s been planning this for 2-3 years realizing that his future is not in playing football. I’ve known a few pro athletes in the medical field. They’ve all planned it. This will also be tougher than what he experienced in the NFL.

  19. Jphilly says:
    May 13, 2018 at 9:16 am
    nyneal says:
    May 13, 2018 at 5:47 am
    Man, what a class act this guy is — how refreshing!!. I have no doubt he’ll be a great doctor down the road.
    Think about him and then think about Jason Kelce for a moment. They epitomize two ends of the spectrum in so far as NFL players go.
    Cleary realizes he’s a mediocre player who would be better served to chase his other dream which is to become a doctor. He epitomizes class and humility.
    Kelce is a very good player who is a classless moron.
    Good luck to you Mr. Cleary!!!!

    awww someone butt hurt. So because Kelce is one of the best at his position and just won the SB he is a classless moron. Maybe only too bro … he is loved in Philly. Maybe you should re read what the story is about

    ————————————————————————————-

    No I don’t need to read what the story is about — apparently you didn’t see what Kelce did and said at the Eagles celebration. That’s why I called him a moron.
    I’ll bring you up to date. Kelce acted like a complete idiot screaming profanity and acting like he should be in a rubber room somewhere with a straight jacket on. It was totally classless and someone should tell Kelce that just as you lose with class and dignity, you do the same thing when you win. Or maybe they should have drug tested him because he sure acted like he was on something. But in any case, he put a real damper on what had been a great celebration by the Eagles and their fans.
    On the other hand, I praised Emmett Cleary for what he said and what he is doing.
    So — maybe it’s you who should read things over again. And work on your grammar while you’re at it, too.

  20. I’ve always been a fan of his brother Todd Cleary’s artwork.

    “The Clearys. They’re an American institution”

  21. Darryl Williams says:
    May 13, 2018 at 6:30 am
    This is exactly the way athletes should approach scholarships the NFL etc. Great Job

    Exactly. He’s using his head to help medicine before he gets CTE and its studied for traumatic brain injuries. He’s going to make fantastic money as a doc as well. Smart smart man.

  22. wow what a waste; being a doctor is the most overrated job in the universe;

    what society really needs is left guards.

  23. Here’s the thing. He can live his life with no regrets and he knows he got as far as he could. He will be a happy man for it. Many players, even successful ones, can’t get on with life after football.

  24. How many people can say they played in the NFL and went to medical school? Here’s hoping he has success at becoming a doctor.

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