Transition from “player” to “working-class”

In this post I am going to touch on a VERY in-depth and long-standing problem that faces many professional athletes, not only who have played in the NFL, but remains a profound issue in all of sports. There is way too much to write in this one blog, so we will dissect this issue from time-to-time throughout this blog, so make sure to stay tuned. 

For now, I will give you an overview of the “inside/under world” of the NFL and the professional athlete that results in over 80% of NFL athletes becoming bankrupt, divorced, or unemployed soon after their careers. Those are amazing numbers.  That means that for every starter on the offense or defense of your favorite football team, only two players will make it, becoming financially set for life within two years of finishing his career.  Those are astonishing statistics!

As a former player, it is hard to make the transition from “player” to “working-class citizen”. Players are used to structure and discipline, and are inadvertently conditioned their entire playing days (Pop-Warner to professional), to adhere to a schedule or game-plan.  This becomes a huge void in life once the playing career comes to an end.  Make no mistake about it, players are very dedicated, determined, and smart, but it is hard for a player, because he has not been in the same “world” of friends and family outside of his career. 

Players are given a game-plan put together by the coaches. Position coaches coach each positional player and each player is expected to execute the game-plan and “make a play”. It is the coming together of everyone doing his job that makes the player successful. No matter how good that one individual may be, he cannot do it on his own.  Any successful player, business, family, etc., will tell you that without the people around them, they would not be able to have the successes they have endured.  I find it quite saddening that so many players fall by the way-side and do not expound on the riches and successes that have obtained.

I am reminded of a story where I reached out to a former player who was slated to make $700,000 dollars for the next upcoming football season.  I told him that he should listen to the knowledge and experience I could share with him to help him transition his career when his playing days come to an end.  He had been playing in the NFL for over five years.  In our initial phone conversation he went on talking about how he was about to sign with a team and that he was not really focused on what I had to tell him because everything was going to be OK, but was not a “superstar”, and not financially comfortable for the rest of his life. In fact he had played on three teams prior to informing me that he was about to sign with a new club. I asked him, “Who told you that you were about to sign with the club?” his response was, “My agent told me.” I snickered a bit in disbelief, because I have heard that story all too many time before. Little did he know is that his agent used to call me all the time and ask if we had an interest in him, and I would say, “Yes”, but he was an interest that was four players down the list in his position, so it was not likely we would ever need the player’s services. Regarding the team this player said he was about to sign with, I knew how this particular team handled their scouting process and there was no way they were about to sign him.  Let’s just say I was able to confirm that he was never even in consideration. His agent had straight-up lied to him.  That is no disrespect to the agent business, there are some very good agents in the business, but if players and their families only knew the “insider/under world” of how the process really works, they would save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars they basically give away.  These types conversations between players and agents happen way more than many people care to realize.  A lot of people think an agent is there to land a job for a player, however, many do not realize, there are only 53 position slots (not counting practice squad) at a time per year. That means only 1,696 spots at any given time per season.  There are more than 10,000 Division-1 athletes across the United States every year. Imagine that multiplied over seven years and you can imagine the number of players waiting to fill those 1,696 slots.

I used to be the guy, the “Turk” or “Grim Reaper” as some would call it, who coordinated bringing players in and informing them when it was time to be released. As a former pro personnel guy in the NFL having worked at NFL headquarters and with the Arizona Cardinals, I know how the process of hiring and firing guys (players) works.

Long story short, this player said he wanted to meet the next day. We scheduled a time, but the next morning he said he needed to cancel and get together later. I concurred, but to this day, we have never met on that meeting. I know this player is not making anywhere near the money he was making when he played in the NFL, in fact he is actually unemployed as confirmed through a mutual acquaintance. Most former players have never failed in their sports careers, and it is quite a shock to the ego when they are now failing in life and do not want people (e.g. friends, family, public) to know their struggles. Simply stated…it’s a pride thing! We have designed a program that works one-on-one, giving the player the confidence and security that he will be equipped with the resources to succeed in life after football.

If I could share with each of you in person the many, many, many, stories I have heard with regard to players who have gone “broke”. Don’t worry, we will break the ice on some more perplexing topics later. We have devised a platform under 44 management that helps coach a player in life after football.  The player has been successful with a coach at every level of his sports career, what makes him so confident that he will now succeed as a working-class citizen without one? While some make it with out the crash, burn, and restart; most do not. I’m just keeping it real! Think about it, even the greatest athletes have coaches their entire career even when they understand the game and have a handle on what is expected of them.

            That’s all for now “dudes and dudettes”! Most blogs won’t be this long, but stay tuned for more informative insight.

 

—Come on “in the house” and we will get you right!

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