Mark Woodhead sat back in his lounging chair on his first day off the job in 35 years.

He took a picture on his phone that Monday morning of his feet up and a cup of coffee in his hand.

Shortly after, he sent it to his buddies back home.

The longtime elementary physical education teacher and head girls basketball coach moved from his hometown of North Platte to Omaha.

“We wanted to be closer to our entire family, so that was the whole reason we moved,” Mark said.

Omaha was the best place for him and his wife to be. They were closer to their five kids.

One of those five kids, in a rare situation, retired at the same time as his dad did.

Most sons, however, haven’t had an NFL career like Mark’s son Danny had.

The 33-year-old retired running back and his 58-year old dad decided both of their times had came to hang it up and pick up the golf clubs.

“It’s already a family joke for us,” Danny said, “I joked with him last year that we would both be retiring at the same time and it all just kind of aligned.”

Danny and Mark meet up to golf on multiple courses in the Omaha area, and Danny said it just doesn’t get old spending time with his dad, that just happens to be his retired friend.

The free time, however, has been an adjustment, to say the least, for the ex-NFL veteran.

“Everybody's always like, ‘Oh, retirement, it must be the best,'” Danny Woodhead said. “No chance. I mean, I love my wife, and she loves me, but it has been an adjustment. Things are different, and it would be weird if they’re not.”

Instead of spending time at an NFL training camp, Woodhead is waking up in the morning to mow the lawn, and of course taking his kids to his favorite ice cream shop, the Dairy Chef in Elkhorn.

Danny has also stepped into his “wife’s domain,” as he says, where he is around the house much more and adjusting to what his role is as a husband and father in a different way now.

“My life just revolves around them now, and I absolutely love it,” he said.

Mark said having all of his nine grandchildren and five children around warms his heart as well.

“People say, 'It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality.' I respond to that with, 'There are a lot more quality moments when the quantity goes up,'” he said.

The quantity has increased so much for the Woodheads.

“They just come over for supper and to just hang out with it,” Mark said.

Retiring at 33 has been a whirlwind for Danny. It seemed a little far off when he was getting recruited to return punts and kicks at Nebraska out of high school.

“He just told me, ‘Dad, I want to do more than return. I want to play,’” Mark said.

Chadron State came calling with a larger opportunity.

Not only did Danny get to play running back, but he got to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play with his big brother Ben.

Danny exploded onto the scene for the Eagles in 2004, accumulating more than 2,000 yards of total offense in his freshman season.

The numbers and accolades stacked up for Woodhead in northwestern Nebraska, but the NFL scouts didn’t come running.

He didn’t get an invitation to the NFL combine, but his mom, Annette, who knew Tom Osborne through her job with the Teammates Mentoring Program, got him a spot at the Nebraska pro day.

The New York Jets picked him up, cut him two years later and New England gave him a shot.

Mark put it best as he said, “The rest is history.”

Danny would leave the Patriots after three seasons and play four seasons for the San Diego Chargers, including a 2013 campaign in which he accumulated more than 1,000 yards of offense — 429 rushing and 605 receiving. His final season, 2017, was spent with the Baltimore Ravens.

Now Danny is just a regular father and husband in Omaha.

“People notice who I am every once in a while when I’m at Walmart,” Danny said, “but not many people look at my 5-9 frame and think ‘football player.’ People will walk past me and point, and they don’t get it’s OK to say 'hello' to me.”

He said he doesn’t miss playing the game one bit, but he is excited to see what coach Scott Frost is going to do in Lincoln.

Football provided Woodhead with memories for a lifetime, one heck of a pension plan and fame.

The one thing that means more to him than any of that is what he gets to see every day now. His family.


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