Former Chicago Athletes: Where Are They Now?

What do star athletes do after their playing days are over? We tracked down a onetime Bears cornerback who’s now a practicing dentist and a missionary; a former Blackhawks star who copilots jetliners; an ex-Cub who became a jazz trumpeter; and more

(page 13 of 17)

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VIRGIL LIVERS

THEN Cornerback, Chicago Bears (1975–79)
NOW High-school principal

Virgil Livers could have moped after suffering a devastating knee injury in a Bears preseason game in 1980. Instead, while recuperating from reconstructive surgery, he prepared for life after football by getting a master’s degree in guidance counseling at Roosevelt University. His NFL comeback fell short, and after two seasons playing for the Chicago Blitz in the upstart United States Football League, Livers took a job teaching physical education and coaching football and track in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He wanted to make an impact on kids’ lives the way his former teachers and coaches, including those of the Bears, had influenced his. “Without the mentoring and leadership they gave me to be the best I could be, I never could have accomplished what I did,” he says. “I wanted to do the same thing for young people. I wanted to give back.”

In time, Livers concluded he could make an even bigger impact higher up the food chain. After earning a certificate in administration, he became an assistant principal at Bowling Green High School, primarily helping students with behavioral or academic problems get back on track. When students lose their way, they don’t get called to the principal’s office. Instead, Livers shows up in class. “When I go in and call a kid out to talk to me, the other kids see that and know that I’m serious,” he says. “That sends a message to the rest of them about their behavior. When I bring kids out, I keep it positive and take the time to talk to them about their behavior. And then I give them a consequence. So it’s not me jumping and screaming. I’d rather do it that way than to have kids afraid of me—‘Oh, here comes Mr. Livers! Run and hide!’”

It’s just as well kids don’t try to bolt. Livers, 59, runs and lifts weights nearly every day. “You’d think I’m getting ready for the upcoming football season,” he says. When he’s not keeping fit, he devotes his free time to directing the gospel choir at his church. But his day job is, well, his principal calling. “I could retire in one year, but I see myself going longer than that,” he says. “I love what I do. I wouldn’t do anything else.”

 

Photography: (Livers, now) Courtesy of Virgil Livers

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