What is an NFL player supposed to do after his career comes to an end?
Looking for answers, Bills cornerback Corey Graham recently took part in the NFL Franchise Boot Camp at the University of Michigan to learn about what it takes to succeed in the business world.
Graham, entering his ninth season in the league, hoped to inch closer to fulfilling a childhood dream of owning his own business.
Over the four days, participants learned firsthand from franchisees, franchise owners, professors, and former players, as well as executives at the International Franchise Association (IFA). Stephen M. Ross, the chairman, and founder of Related Companies, an international real estate firm, opened the program as the keynote speaker.
Former NFL players with franchise ownership experience, including Tim Biakabatuka,*owner of four Bojangles' locations, Angelo Crowell, owner of five Jersey Mike's Subs locations, and Van Jakes, *owner of three McDonalds locations, took part in panel discussions.
"It was above and beyond anything I have expected," Graham recalled in an interview during The John Murphy Show. "It was so informative, you learn so much about the aspect of franchises and different businesses along with how you go about owning a business and what it takes. It was long days, but I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to own their own business."
"We want to help our players to be successful on and off the field," said Charles Way, Vice President of NFL Player Engagement. "Offering this Boot Camp and putting our players and their significant others in front of some the most successful people in our NFL family and in the corporate world will hopefully provide them the inspiration needed to achieve their dreams away from the football field."
"This seminar is an excellent opportunity for the players to get educated on the ins-and-outs of being a franchise owner," said Biakabatuka. "Every football player would like a long career but that is not a guarantee. Becoming a franchise owner could be a rewarding venture for a player who is planning for life after football and decides they are committed to learning the business."
"I don't know how long I will want to play after this contract, but I know what I am going to do, I am going to prepare myself for whatever happens afterwards. I am in the stage of my career where I am planning for after football," Graham said. "A lot of the guys tell me how hard life is after football, I don't want to have to go through what some of the other guys go through."