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Life out of the limelight

Some former players' involvement in charitable work doesn't stop with NFL alumni functions. Former New York Giants running back Rodney Hampton heads his own foundation in Houston, where he helps inner city children stay on the right track and aids high school football players in the search for college scholarships.

"That's my passion " giving back and helping kids, and at the same time telling them don't make the same mistakes that other guys did," said Hampton. "I've been blessed, and I've been dedicated. To play this game, you've got to be disciplined and dedicated to make it."

Hampton's playing career could be used as an example of how quickly a pro football player can go from Pro Bowl to retirement. Hampton rushed for more than 1,000 yards every season from 1991 to 1995, but an injury in 1997 and increased competition from Tiki Barber and Tyrone Wheatley for playing time ended Hampton's career.

"Definitely, it's been an honor to play with a hall of famer like Lawrence Taylor and (other) great guys," said Hampton.

Youngblood " an All-Pro defensive lineman with the Los Angeles Rams " said today's NFL players should always have some idea what they are going to do after their playing days are over.

"The first thing you have to do is you have to be smart with what you're blessed with. You're blessed to be able to play the game, and in today's economic environment they're well off. Be smart about that, first of all," said Youngblood. "Then, look to the future, think about the future " your career could be over in a heartbeat the next play, so you're (going) only one play at a time. You have to have some thought process going from Day 1 as to what you're going to do tomorrow in the event that something tragic happens."

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