Two really good Sports Illustrated profiles that bear posting on together.
From the most recent issue, Chris Ballard wrote "What Was He Thinking?" about former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer and an October 2010 SI piece was "Beat, Play, Love" by Michael Rosenberg on now NFL coaches Jim & John Harbaugh.
Both were detailed and well written looks at the respective men, but what struck me as the common thread was how the three of them appear to be doing what they want in life.
The Harbaughs were raised in a football family, but the path each followed really points to the goal of being a head football coach. There's a fair amount of interesting back story from Rosenberg as to what brought John to the head job in Baltimore and Jim more recently to that with San Francisco, but it's impressive reading about someone knowing what they want and working over time to get there.
Ballard's story on Jake Plummer differs from that on the Harbaughs as rather than being about people in marquee NFL roles, it's about someone who walked away from a position in the spotlight. After starring in college and then earning accolades and wealth with first the Cardinals and then Broncos, Plummer left his role as an NFL quarterback (and $5M upcoming season salary) and retired to his home in Sand Point, ID. Instead of pining away for the past, Plummer comes across as completely at ease with his life... including his passion for competitive handball (and associated comradeship).
Excellent stories both with solid writing from Rosenberg and Ballard respectively, but what really struck me was the subjects themselves. Yea, maybe not everyone has made the type of money Plummer has to be able to walk away from a profession, but he still left a lot behind to follow his desires. The Harbaughs path may be more traditional in that theirs doesn't so blatantly diverge from the traditional, but it's nonetheless impressive to read about the work they've put in to now have their aspired to positions.