"The two athletes, meanwhile, returned home to far more scrutiny than acclaim. They were largely shunned in Olympic and track communities. Running offered little financial stability 50 years ago, so they both gave professional football a shot. Smith appeared in two games in three NFL seasons, and Carlos had an NFL tryout and lasted just one year in the Canadian Football League.
The 1970s brought depression, personal troubles and financial woes for Carlos: “This was no accident. It was part of the government taking back what we had won,” he wrote. “When the government decided it was going to go after figures who were against the establishment, they went out to get them. They had a machinery. We had no machinery.”
Both athletes said they remained under FBI surveillance for years.
“They were following me every day, every which way,” Carlos wrote in “The John Carlos Story,” his 2011 autobiography. “But the thing that had me torn up inside was: why? What did I do to deserve them following me everywhere? The only conclusion I could draw was that it was to punish me, to beat me down and to drive me to some point of insanity.”
Around 1973, five years after the Olympics, there was still an FBI agent stationed outside his home.
“I was so lonely and so lost, I invited him inside to have a hot cup,” Carlos later wrote. “He said the rules of surveillance dictated that he was not permitted to actually enter my house and have coffee with me. I asked if it was against regulations for me to bring two hot cups out to the car, and he paused and said no.” So Carlos brought the coffee."