The San Francisco 49ers are welcoming back an old friend to the front office. The team announced on Tuesday that former outside linebacker Parys Haralson is joining the organization as director of player engagement. Haralson spent seven years with the 49ers, and then the final two in New Orleans following a trade. He retired after the 2014 season, and is currently working toward an MBA at the University of Miami.
In his new job, Haralson will report to 49ers VP of Football Affairs Keena Turner. Haralson's job will entail further developing programs that are "designed to assist players in making a smooth transition in and out of professional football as well as life skills development, financial education, post career and occupational development, continued education and degree completion."
Trent Baalke had this to say in the press release for the news:
"Parys is a young man who represented himself and our organization very well, both on and off the field," said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. "Less than two years removed from the game, Parys has great knowledge of what players experience in today's NFL and what is needed for them to be successful in their professional and personal lives. We look forward to our team benefitting from his insight and support."
The last two drafts, the 49ers have focused on players that have avoided off the field issues. Rashard Robinson is a distinct exception to the rule, but for the most part, the team has kept on the straight and narrow. They haven't been a particularly good football team, but they haven't been getting arrested left and right. So, I suppose that's a plus.
But this really goes well beyond just player arrests and other discipline issues. Financial issues during and after a player's career remain a huge issue. What players will do after they retire is a huge issue. You can't force a player to fully prepare for life after football, but strong player engagement departments within the team, the league, and the union can only serve to help players better prepare. Considering most of the older veterans are out of the league before 40, that's a lot of life to live.