It’s become something a fixture on the National Football League calendar.
Just after the final gun sounds on Super Sunday and just before the NFL Combine kicks off Indianapolis, there arrives the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program–a four-day program, hosted in mid-February by both by Wharton and Harvard Business School, that aims to teach NFL players about the nuts and bolts of business and prepare them for life after football.
The program has been held at Wharton since 2005. Each year, it seems, the players who participate can’t say enough about the experience. That was true once again of this year’s program, hosted between February 16 and 19.
Here’s a sampling of comments from this year’s class:
Deion Branch of the Seattle Seahawks told the Canadian Press that he and his fellow players were impressed by the business minds they met through the program: “I was amazed to be in the room with all of these businessmen and entrepreneurs and have them share their stories with us. It was fascinating. It’s almost like how they look at us as football players. We were looking at them in the same way.”
Mark LeVoir of the New England Patriots, who attended the Harvard event last year and the Wharton event this year, told NESN.com that sees the program as a way to keep in touch with business trends: “Unfortunately, football is going to end some day. We all can’t be like Junior [Seau] and play for 20 years. If I could, I would, but you’ve got to start thinking what’s next for you after football. Hopefully, that’s a long time from now, but in that transition period, what are you going to do? Do I want to go back to school? Is that something I’m interested in. They’re kind of keeping me up to speed of what’s really going on with the business world.”
The Eagles’ own Trevor Laws said he knows his body won’t last long in the brutal NFL. As he told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “You come in and, after a tough day in the league, you realize your body hurts a lot and you’re not going to be able to play at this level for as long as you want. I’m in my second year here and I’m like, ‘Aw, my body already hurts. What am I going to be doing after 10 years?’ So you’ve got to prepare.”
Finally, Ken Shropshire, the David W. Hauck Professor and Director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, told ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli that he always enjoys working with the players: “We find the players to be a very engaged group,” said Shropshire. “They’re here because they want to be here, not because they have to be. It’s like, ‘Tell me what I need to know and what I need to do.’ They are very eager.”