JONESBORO, Ga -- How about this for a trade?

Football helmets for fire helmets. Fresh cleats for dirty boots. Protecting the football for protecting lives.

That’s the life for Michael Cooper, Kregg Lumpkin and Dionte Dinkins, three Clayton County firefighters with football in their rearview.

Cooper and Lumpkin shared the same backfield at UGA in the early 2000s. Dinkins played at Fort Valley State.

Both Lumpkin and Dinkins played in the NFL.

“I love helping people,” Dinkins said.

“What they found in sports, they've also found here, which is that family atmosphere,” said Clayton Fire Chief Landy Merkison.

For each one of these former football players turned firefighters, this is a job that they just have to do.

“People, in the worst day of their life, are calling us for help,” Dinkins said.

“The only difference is, when you go to practice, it’s the real thing,” Lumpkin said.

Firefighters don’t get the same respect as football players, but they have their moments. Dinkins participated in a call in which his crewmates had to use their jaws-of-life equipment to remove a 16-year-old girl out of a car.