Longtime Bills safety/linebacker Bryan Scott understands this as well as anyone.
"When I got released from the Bills I came home, called my trainer and went to work out on Monday thinking, 'Back to the grind, hopefully a team calls,'" Scott recalled during a recent interview on The John Murphy Show. "I got to the point of the workout where it starts to burn and you either push through it or ... you stop."
For the first time, Scott stopped.
He set the weight down and his trainer looked at him and said, "Bryan, what are you doing?"
"I'm finished," Scott replied.
"Finished working out?"
"No, I think I am finished playing."
And with that came the end of an NFL career that began in 2003, when Scott was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round. He also played for the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans before finishing his career with the Buffalo Bills.
In 10 NFL seasons, Scott accumulated 591 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, and 44 pass deflections. The moment he set down that weight, he knew it was time to move on to the next thing.
Scott may have ended one career, but he is seamlessly transitioning to another. He credits the success of his transition to lessons learned from observing other veteran players in the league and to a former coach's advice.
"The NFL is more of a job, not a career, because it doesn't last very long," Scott said. "If you're blessed to stay in it, one thing is for certain: if you're a player now, one day you will become a former player. Don't make it your life. Enjoy it, live in the moment yes, and just understand that one day it will end.
"I'm very thankful it was smooth where I don't have any regrets looking back."
An accomplished entrepreneur, Scott is a partial owner of a franchise called, "Title Boxing Club," located in a northern suburb of Atlanta. "Title Boxing Club" is a non-fighting, non-sparring boxing fitness club.
"It's just such a neat concept," Scott said. "You walk in and have 70 hanging heavy bags at one location and 63 at another. Members come in, we help them wrap their hands, we take them through a 15 minute warmup and then eight, three minute rounds on the heavy bag with one minute active rest in between each round and then we finish that off with 15 minutes of core and stretching. It's called our power hour. We have really great results with these workouts."
Scott also is involved with another business, NOENE USA. NOENE manufactures high-tech under-soles that use a revolutionary material capable of absorbing and then dispersing the shockwaves generated to protect your joints when walking or jumping. During a recent appearance on ABC's Shark Tank, the reality American Dream series, Scott sold 30 percent of the company to Mark Cuban and Daymond John for $200,000 [WATCH].
Scott's involvement with NEONE was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time to capitalize on a golden opportunity. While traveling, he met one of the owners of the business, which has been selling its product in Europe for a couple of years. The owners were thinking of expanding to the United States, and said their product would be great for sports, as well as daily life. They just needed someone with a sports background.
While the transition to the world of business has been smooth, football still holds a special place in Bryan's life.
"I do miss playing," he said. "I have been playing for such a long time and when you watch it yes, all the little memories, knowing when The Ralph is rocking and the smell of the grass and training camp. That part of it you really miss and you miss that team camaraderie and that locker room feel ... that never leaves you."
Scott has advice for the younger players in the league.
"Take advantage of this opportunity. Don't do silly things; keep yourself in shape during the offseason," he said. "Pay attention to all the little details. Take those same fundamentals and apply them to the business world. It's the same exact thing, day in and day out you need to perform at a high level and put your best foot forward."