The National Football League and the NFL Players Association have entered into agreements with Harvard Business School and Wharton to develop courses to help players prepare for the transition to their post-NFL careers.
This week, HBS welcomed 30 current NFL players to campus for the first of two 3-day sessions of the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program. The course recognizes that football players have short careers in the league and many players will have to work after their NFL days are over.
During the program, the athletes participate in a rigorous business immersion taught by HBS faculty covering topics ranging from entrepreneurship to real estate investment, and featuring cases such as Butler Lumber, ZipCar, and R&R. Professor Carl Kester, Senior Associate Dean and Chairman of the MBA program commented, “Football is a good way to make a living but can also be a pathway to a rich and full life after the game.” The program participants hope to learn the skills, perspectives, and frameworks that will help them become effective investors, owners, and entrepreneurs.
The experience has more than met the players’ expectations, and they have been particularly surprised by the camaraderie amongst the participants and intensity of the case discussions.
Ted Johnson, a linebacker on the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, enjoyed the opportunity to unabashedly express his views, “It just doesn’t happen like this in the NFL. Coach Belichick never asks for my opinion.”
The players have embraced the experience with study groups staying up to 2am to crack the cases and classes running over due to various instances of prolonged debates and excessive pit diving.
After finishing the first module on April 8, the players will spend time developing their own business ideas which they will work to improve before returning to campus next month. For example, Dhani Jones of the Philadelphia Eagles plans to investigate ways to improve his online bow tie business, www.dhani55.com.
As to why the players chose Harvard over Wharton? To quote Freddie Mitchell, also of the Eagles, “I can go to Wharton any time.”