Glen Coffee, 'Big Rich' and early retirement

Glen Coffee's sudden retirement from the San Francisco 49ers following only one season came as a shock.

Former NFL prospect Rich Williams had the right idea when he opted out of the 2002 draft and moved on with his life -- without leaving any employer hanging.

It's tough to fault Coffee for giving the NFL a try despite the ambivalence he later said he was feeling all along. The financial stakes were high and making a hasty decision to step away would have damaged any attempts to come back. The way things went, Coffee departed the NFL knowing for sure football was not for him. It was a bad break for the 49ers.

Back to Williams. Allison Glock's piece about him for ESPN The Magazine was one of the better offseason reads I've come across this year.

Williams says he has no regrets about walking away from a football career analysts thought he would begin as a mid-round draft choice. While Julius Peppers, John Henderson, Dwight Freeney, Albert Haynesworth and Charles Grant headlined the 2002 class of defensive linemen, Williams went about becoming a teacher, an evangelist and a competitive strongman.

Williams holds world records for grip strength. According to Glock's story, he lifted a 163-pound anvil by the horn and carried it 60-plus feet -- with one hand.

As for Coffee? His agent, Todd Crannell, said Coffee has worked toward his degree at Alabama, channeled his competitive energy into boxing and followed his brother's career as a running back at South Carolina.

"Glen played four years in high school, four in college and one in the NFL -- enough to know if he likes it," Crannell said. "If someone worked at McDonald's for nine years and wanted to quit, no one would wonder why. The money in the NFL is different, obviously, but money has no value to Glen. The NFL is such a brand that it's hard for people to understand when someone just does not like it."