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The Off-Season Businesses of Pro Football Players

Just because a pro player has on-field success does not mean he’ll have automatic off-field business success. He often struggles with identity crisis issues when his name and face doesn’t bring immediate recognition. The NFLPA works hard to provide players and retired players with the tools and resources to be successful during post-football life.

The NFLPA offers financial education, a Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, and many life/relationship coaching programs. It’s like anything else in life; the more a player educates himself in the options available and utilizes the tools at his disposal, the more he’ll get out of those resources.

Let’s look at a few players and how they’ve taken responsibility for creating their own success:

Gary Baxter, former strong safety for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns is making his way in business. Gary attributes the hard work and preparation he used in football games as the same tools that have molded him into a successful businessman for his food franchises.  The admonition Gary gives other post-pro football players is they’ll most likely have to work harder to prove themselves in the business world than they did on the field.

Nolan Harrison played 10 years as defensive end for LA/Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins. He’s now a 10-year veteran with First Midwest Bank’s Trust and Investment Management as a Vice President. He’s also a devoted husband and father. Nolan is a public motivational speaker assisting youth and adults in overcoming adversity, keynote speaking, management and sales training. Nolan also spends his time as a Board Member for the NFLPA and an active advocate for the retired NFL players. Now, that’s the way to spend your time post-NFL!

Lonnie Marts Jr., was a hard-hitting linebacker with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today he spends his time on his business, Godspeed Sports Performance, a faith-based company dedicated to mentoring and training young athletes to rise above mediocrity both spiritually and physically. Godspeed offers sports specific speed and agility training for boys and girls. Lonnie is Jacksonville’s only trainer invited to Nike’s Football Training Camp Tour (NFTC). This elite list of trainers develops the nation’s top athletes from the USA. He’s also an involved husband and a father of five. Lonnie dedicates himself to making a difference spiritually and physically in the lives of young athletes.

Dhani Jones, current linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals is also the current star of the travel channel’s show, Dhani Tackles the Globe. I admit it – the show has tackled my heart and mind with a vengeance and I am absolutely smitten with awe in the way Dhani combines his vibrant personality and his willingness to tackle any sport and culture with enthusiasm.

During the off-season, Dhani combines his two greatest passions, his love of travel and sports, as he journeys to different parts of the globe. He not only immerses himself in the local culture, he eats (sometimes with great trepidation), the regional food, and he explores how traditional sports help define the culture. He learns the country’s premier sport and competes as an athlete.

In 2005, Dhani also founded Five Star Ties, his own line of men’s accessories. His love of the arts, including writing poetry, fashion design, photography, and playing classical music sees him through football’s off-season.

Every pro player knows he is one play away from serious injury, a surprise trade, a contract dispute, or a roster cut – all the more reason to work diligently at his off-season endeavors. Former pro players have a need like anyone else for personal fulfillment and making money. Their business ventures provide both.


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