The San Francisco 49ers and the rest of the NFL return for training camp in the next couple weeks, which means players have only a few more days/weeks of offseason to enjoy. Plenty of players will get in some rest and relaxation, but others are taking advantage of the free time to prepare for life after football.
The NFL and NFLPA have created a variety of "boot camps" in which players get a crash course in some topic. It might be basic business classes, getting into announcing or officiating, or a variety of other topics. However, a new program in Miami offers a significant opportunity for players to build their band and prepare for life after football.
The University of Miami has created an "Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes", launching it this past February. Due to expected interest from NFL players, the inaugural session is being held during the NFL offseason. It is an 18-month program, with six 2-week courses in Coral Gables, three online courses over 17 months, and various field business-related field trips. The program has the same curriculum as the school's "Global Executive MBA program".
I bring all this up because Bloomberg Business recently put together a feature on the program, and spoke with San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith about the program. Smith is actually attending the program with his wife Chanel. Other players in attendance include former 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes, former Washington wide receiver Santana Moss, and many others.
Moss actually might be the most interesting person involved in this. He is a free agent and looking to get another year in the league. However, he is 36 and he had only ten receptions for 116 yards in 2014. He might land somewhere if an injury creates space, but the odds seem pretty good his NFL career is just about wrapped up. It is always better later than never to prepare for the future, so getting into this program at least gives him a chance to figure out what's next.
Torrey Smith recently signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the 49ers, and would generally seem to be in good shape. He's done a variety of programs through the NFL and NFLPA, including a consumer products boot camp, and an internship with Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings. It's safe to say he knows there is life after football, and is preparing for it accordingly.
It is a shame there are not more players taking advantage of opportunities like this. We joke about Vernon Davis building his brand, but given that he will hopefully be spending more time off the field than on in the not too distant future, it is a good thing he prepares himself as much as possible.
The NFLPA offers partial tuition reimbursement for this program, and others. While these athletes are making a ton of money, a little extra incentive is sometimes necessary. It can be hard at times to feel bad about a millionaire athlete eventually going broke, but it happens. For many of these guys, after spending 20-30 years participating in a sport, they will spend most of the rest of their life no longer enjoying the physical competition. These kinds of opportunities are useful, and it is good to see some of them taking advantage.