"Hey, what ever happened to that Dan Ruettiger kid from Notre Dame?" said no one, prior to 1993. Then a wildly-popular movie came out based only partly on actual events and everyone knew the story of Rudy. But what about the thousands of college athletes that don't know how to write their own screenplay or that simply ride off into the athletic sunset when their career is over? Does anyone keep tabs on them? Luckily for fans across the country, Jim Weber does.
Maintaining a database numbering in the tens of thousands, Jim Weber and the fine folks at LostLettermen.com help anyone that has ever asked "Where are they now?" about their favorite college players. We asked Jim to stop by and share some of his more memorable stories, and he graciously took some time out of a busy schedule to provide some great information on the current whereabouts of Jake "The Snake" Plummer, Tony Mandarich, and Reuben Droughns, among others.
Jake and the Fat Man
One of Jim's favorite stories involves Jake Plummer, once of Arizona State and pseudo-NFL fame, who famously walked away from the game a short time ago. "Here's a guy that walked away from $5 million a couple years ago to hang out in Idaho and play handball. It was just really interesting to hear this guy who had been labeled a brat during his time in Denver talk about how happy he was after football. Most guys seem to have a real hard time adjusting to life after professional sports (i.e. Brett Favre), but Plummer certainly doesn't seem to have that problem."
I'm not sure how Plummer would hold up against Fat Mancho from "Sleepers", though. Nor do I have any idea how to play handball, but Plummer's excitement about the game has my interest piqued.
The Big Ten's Brian Bosworth
"Another guy I really enjoyed talking to was Tony Mandarich", Weber told Black Shoe Diaries. And why not, amiright BSDivas? Well, apparently the Great American Bust has moved on.
"Everyone knows him as this roided-out monster from his days at Michigan State and being a colossal bust in the NFL. Usually, guys like that let their lives spiral out of control (a la Lawrence Phillips), but give Mandarich credit: He really did a 180 with his life. The fact that he is now a photographer that shoots boudoir and glamour, well, that's just icing on the cake."
In Soviet Russia, Interception Throws Denard Robinson!
I specifically asked Weber for his craziest story in terms of a "Where Are They Now?" answer. He did not disappoint. "In terms of the craziest whereabouts I've heard of, that honor has to go to former Oregon running back Reuben Droughns. He's now coaching football in Siberia in hopes of becoming a college football coach someday. You would think an Oregon legend and Super Bowl champion could get a high school job anywhere, but instead he's halfway around the world in, literally, the Siberia of coaching jobs."
The crazy doesn't stop there. "He was actually really well-spoken and insightful and just seemed like a different kind of guy like Ricky Williams - hence the DEA bust for Droughns trying to start his own medical marijuana dispensary last year", Weber told us. Hey, at least he's goal-oriented.
Oh Yea, Those Guys
I'll let Weber close it out on a high note without interruption. "Of course, any site that tracks down former football players and their current whereabouts would be incomplete without mention of Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell. I've tried to get a hold of these guys for over a year with no luck, but their stories are fascinating. I tried to interview Leaf while he was booking fishing resorts in Vancouver to no avail, and now he is back in his home state of Montana writing a "trilogy" about his life. It was originally due out this month but it looks like the release date has been pushed back. As for JaMarcus, the LSU SID said he moved back to Baton Rouge and was going to take classes at LSU this fall but, surprise, it fell through. I know, shocking that JaMarcus Russell would bail on something..."
Of course Ryan Leaf is writing a trilogy about Ryan Leaf.
A sincere thanks to Jim for taking time out of his schedule for us. If you're wondering why there were no Penn State updates, well you'll have to wait a little bit. Jim will be back with us in no time, and he's promised some great stories for your past Penn State player update fix.