Many people complain about the amount of money sports stars are paid. But it is justified in many ways. Much of it comes from advertisements, and unlike an accountant or lawyer who would work for as long as they wanted, players have a limited time for their career.
Whilst many like Tom Brady may still be going in their 40s, injuries take their toll, and younger players come in to see off the old guard.
Some players will eventually progress into coaching or other related roles to the sport like becoming a pundit for a sports network. Other sports stars go on to invest their money wisely, and maybe even release their own products.
One of the biggest successes of sports stars who became rich from making a move to business is boxer George Foreman, who put his name to the George Foreman grill. A device that cooks food on both sides, and drains off the excess fat to make your meals healthier.
But what about in the NFL? What players who spent their entire lives playing American Football went on to be successful entrepreneurs? There are actually quite a few hanging around, and unlike when you may have seen some of these guys with NFL odds making them favorites for them to be top scorers in a season or to win a Superbowl, these may surprise you a little more, because no one could have seen them making these moves into business.
Jonathan Vilma – New Orleans Saints
Vilma last played in the NFL in 2013, as a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. He has a number of NFL titles to his name, including a Super Bowl win, but after he left football he began making a name for himself outside of the sport. Although he is still an NFL analyst for Fox Sports, so he’s not entirely left the game he loves behind yet.
But football aside, Vilma purchased a bar in Miami, and whilst there, noticed how much time customers spend on their phones. So, putting two and two together, he decided to invest in a bar-focused mobile application called BarEye, that would allow customers to view menus and order drinks to their table so they didn’t have to go to the bar and order, then wait for the drinks before carrying them back and spilling half of it on the floor.
Whilst he may not get all the credit for this, applications have been rolled out like this across the world. And they’ve become increasingly more popular with the COVID pandemic because it means less interaction with other customers, and you can keep socially distanced, making bars safer for everyone. Some people have even introduced games where they will post their locations on social media, and people will then send random orders of drinks and food to their tables which they must eat.
Gayle Sayers – Chicago Bears
Another NFL player, who got involved in tech was the Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers, who played in the 60s and 70s. He was already a monster on the field setting records such as most touchdowns in a season before he became a monster in the business world.
He’s the founder of IT company Sayers, a brand known around the globe that specialise in personalized IT solutions to meet the needs of their customers. They do everything from diagnosing problems, designing new systems and even helping businesses to implement them.
Since then, he has also released his own book about his life as an NFL player, and his move into business. But that didn’t sell quite as well as his IT services do.
Jerry Richardson – Baltimore Colts
Another older player who went from ball to business was the Baltimore Colts flanker/halfback, Jerry Richardson. He was never the best on the field, although he scored an important touchdown to help his team claim an NFL Championship in 1959, off the field, he has been incredible.
The former player went on to own a number of Hardee’s fast-food franchises with a friend, which they sold. Richardson then used his money to get back into football but on a more business side, establishing the Carolina Panthers NFL team, which he owned for 23 years. So whilst he may not have been able to play anymore, his love for the game saw him create his own team.
Since then, he has come under some fire though. Not for football-related reasons, but for sexual harassment claims, and making racist remarks. So whilst he may have a good business brain, he clearly lacks morals.
Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
Another Saints player, Brees also played for the San Diego Chargers. But whilst he may have performed well on the field, he has performed even better off the field with the help of his wife.
He’s invested in a number of businesses, including a clothing business he runs with his partner. The business called NineBrand, celebrated all things about New Orleans, selling a wide range of clothing that would focus on popular monuments around New Orleans such as the iconic Superdome Stadium.
As well as that, Brees also invested in Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. He bought a franchise in Crescent City, as he used to go to Jimmy Johns all the time back in college, and he loved the food so much, he wanted a slice for himself.
As you can see, there are many popular entrepreneurs that have come from the NFL, showing that not all sports stars lack the intelligence some would accuse them of.
And many of these didn’t start their businesses until after their careers had ended, so if you’re getting older and think you’ve not lived your dreams yet, you still have time because these guys didn’t start up their businesses as spring chickens either. Take a page out of their book and go follow your dreams no matter how old you are.