The first element that moves you approximately joe szczecko is his length. He’s not all that massive. Szczecko was a 6-foot, 265-pound protective tackle within the nfl within the 1960s, but at age 63 he’s all the way down to a properly-honed 215 kilos, and he desires to boil off some other 10. If the attorney didn’t have a photograph or from the consideration days in his workplace — an eyegrabbing one indicates him smashing into dallas cowboys quarterback don meredith — you’d in no way guess what his former life held. “i run four or 5 miles every other day and lift weights two or 3 days a week,” says szczecko (said shess-ko), a own family practice expert with simmons & szczecko in decatur. Unlike the hordes of professional athletes who conflict after striking it up, szczecko made a clean transition to a post-jock existence. At the same time as nevertheless a participant, he earned his law degree from emory university — football through day, training by means of night — and commenced exercise. He’s been together with his companion, m. T. Simmons jr., inside the identical west ponce de leon avenue workplace building, considering 1969. He spends 50 to 60 percent of his time on circle of relatives law instances regarding high-asset clients — the entirety from divorces to custody battles to nuptial agreements — and the balance on widespread litigation. Profession highlights encompass an $11 million judgment in a wrongful loss of life case/property dispute in dekalb county and a $2 million verdict in a parental kidnapping case in gwinnett county. “joe’s a very vibrant, very persuasive endorse and a continuing preparer,” says lawyer and friend james e. Spence jr. “if the great-prepared legal professional is the best legal professional, that’s him. Plus joe’s a very personable guy. Humans like him, whether it’s a decide or a jury, and that gives him a natural advantage.” he additionally has a relentlessly low-key tackle a existence with various zelig moments. “all people has a story to tell,” he says. “mine’s simply different.” szczecko turned into born in lahr, germany, in 1942. His mother and father had been polish prisoners despatched there to soak up the hard work slack for germans off combating the conflict. “my know-how become that my father changed into a member of the polish cavalry, so he become put in charge of the animals in the village,” says szczecko. “i don’t recognise what my mom did inside the daytime, however at night time she served meals in a brathaus. For a long time, i without a doubt notion the lady who owned that brathaus turned into my mother. And i've a bright memory of german soldiers walking the streets.” szczecko got here to the us with his mom in 1949, settling within the closely polish northwest aspect of chicago. “a relative had sent for her, however under the immigration legal guidelines, only the 2 people ought to come, not my father.” his mom landed a manufacturing unit task, and because she couldn’t each paintings and look after her son, she put him in an orphanage, in which he lived for seven years, till shifting returned in together with her as a youngster. Soccer become his price ticket to a better existence. Szczecko was in the eighth grade while he changed into spotted gambling basketball and, because of his length and athletic skill, provided a football scholarship to gordon technical high faculty. It was a dream come actual for his mother, a religious catholic who couldn’t find the money for the private school. “i’d in no way performed soccer in my life,” szczecko says. “i used to be on cloud 9 that day.” he speedy observed that he relished the contact and the sheer competitiveness of the sport. “it was a manhood check for a child that age,” says szczecko, who spent his high faculty years pumping iron to get equipped for the university gridiron. Gives poured in — from such locations as michigan and notre dame — but a visit to close by northwestern, where the charismatic ara parseghian was turning this system round, persuaded him to move there. To start with, szczecko turned into a two-manner participant at northwestern, before specializing in protection his junior and senior years. Quick, agile and savvy, he made both athletic and educational all-american groups, and played inside the 1965 college all-megastar recreation in opposition to the jim brown-led cleveland browns, the protecting nfl champions. Teammates covered the likes of gale sayers, dick butkus, olympic a hundred-meter gold medalist bob hayes and roger staubach. It’s taken into consideration one of the best college all-megastar teams ever assembled. “it’s excellent to say you’ve tackled jim brown,” he says. “but sayers changed into the first-rate jogging lower back i’ve ever visible. He had improbable moves. If he hadn’t gotten harm, i trust he would were the most prolific strolling lower back in history.” after quick flings with the chicago bears and the l. A. Rams, szczecko have become an atlanta falcon in 1966, the debut yr for the franchise. The falcons’ location-kicker whiffed the ball and pulled a hamstring at the franchise’s beginning kickoff, setting the tone for a team that went 6-35-1 its first three seasons. “the fanatics loved us anyway,” szczecko says. “and that i loved the town.” his law research didn’t keep him from social excursions of the metropolis on weekends. “i was unmarried,” he says with a laugh. “i had a first rate lifestyles.” at the give up of the 1968 season, on the very day he become to take his bar examination, szczecko found out that educate norm van brocklin had traded him to the the big apple giants, in which he performed a season before getting cut. Constantly adept at lateral moves, he made a quick evade into the full-time exercise of regulation. “gambling soccer turned into a large help for me early on,” he says. “human beings knew me once i got here to the court docket. Many judges and bailiffs were football fanatics, and i suppose i used to be welcomed a little bit greater than the average attorney.” his aggressive hearth become any other boon. “litigation is opposition, and i’m aggressive, perhaps extra so than people would like me to be,” he says. “however i’ve mellowed a touch bit through the years. In divorce instances, i don’t believe there have to be a winner and a loser. The decision that’s reached have to be a honest one, primarily based on what took place inside the marriage, the cash, what the wishes are. If you have accurate lawyers offering a case properly, the man or woman with the proper records must win.” early on, szczecko additionally ordinary crook cases, until a homicide trial changed his manner of thinking. The defendant became accused of killing his ex-spouse and her new husband, and szczecko gained an acquittal after a week-lengthy trial in fulton county advanced courtroom. “i assumed my customer become harmless,” says szczecko, “and i used to be so apprehensive, thinking that maybe i’d taken a case i wasn’t capable to address. There was loads of strain that week, and my heart leapt while the acquittal came down.” it became too much stress for a man who had handled the excellent the nfl ought to throw at him. “i simply didn’t want to go through that anymore, so i began focusing on civil practice.” a self-defined workaholic, szczecko may additionally have the satisfactory commute in traffic-thick atlanta. He lives in a new condo that’s a trifling football toss from his office, while wife karen holds down their domestic in hendersonville, n. C. Their daughters, megan and leslie, are grown. Szczecko enjoys travel, including periodic trips to poland — he speaks a touch polish — to go to relatives. Szczecko is grateful to football, noting how much it did for an immigrant’s son. “football made me give attention to what i needed to do to prevail. … i agree with that kind of recognition translates into any career, whether or not it’s the regulation or medicine or anything. In this usa, if you discover ways to push your self in some thing, you’ll prevail.” to these days, human beings on occasion recognize szczecko and ask him for an autograph. A few folks even realize the way to pronounce his call. The attention by no means ceases to amaze him. “i haven’t performed soccer for a long time, but it’s a incredible memory.” szczecko holds season tickets to the falcons, and occasionally receives a chance to face next to today’s linemen, the ones 6-foot-7-inch, 320-pound behemoths who block out the sun. “i assume, ‘whoa, did i used to do that?’” he laughs.