John Tait is a former offensive tackle for the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs, who was a first round draft pick and played for 10 years, reaching two Pro Bowls in his career. Nolan Harrison, former Raider and Steeler and current Senior Director of the NFL Players Association Former Players Services, caught up with Tait to find out what he’s been doing since leaving football.
In 2008, John Tait loomed large. He weighed 310 pounds, was an offensive tackle for the Chicago Bears and had just played in a Super Bowl.
Just three short years later he is retired, 30 pounds lighter … and he’s graduating from college again.
This isn’t something you would normally read about an ex-NFL player, but John Tait is living out his second dream. This May he will be graduating from Columbia College in Chicago with a degree in film and video.
Although he had a long 10-year NFL career with the Bears and, before that, the Kansas City Chiefs, his love for film began much earlier.
Tait’s father used to show him documentaries when he was younger. He would use them as a teaching method, whether it is World War II or a nature story. Then in 1996, while Tait was attending Brigham Young University, he took a humanities class that reassured his love for film.
With his degree Tait wants to tell interesting stories, no matter the subject. He doesn’t care if it’s sports, nature, or everyday life as long as it is a positive story to tell.
“That’s what crazy, there are so many stories to tell and your only limits are creative and imagination,” he says.
Tait recently just worked on a story with a female kidney transplant and even witnessed the actual surgery. He loves to see new things and meet new interesting people.
However the road to his current career wasn’t easy and he does miss those days of playing football. It was around the end of his 10th season he began noticing the injuries were happening sooner than normal and that his body was slowly starting to deteriorate.
Tait’s daughter was 3 when he retired in 2009, and although she was at some training camps, Tait wishes he had children sooner to show them that aspect of his life. (Tait, who has been married for nin years, now has three kids: a 6 year-old, 2-year-old, and 10-month-old.)
He used to watch players like former Bears lineman Ruben Brown bring his sons into the locker room after games. Looking back, Tait wishes he could have done the same. But that’s another good thing about film: He can show his kids all of his memories captured and played on the television — including that 2007 Super Bowl.
Tait says, “There were times I would have to pinch myself and think, ‘Gosh, I’m really an NFL football player. This is crazy!’”
Through the stories told on film, Tait’s kids may somebody be saying something similar about their dad.
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