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Dontrelle’s Diary: Life of an NFLPA Extern — Day 1

Talk about a nice snag! (Photo courtesy of me)

What up world! This is Dontrelle Inman, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears and this year’s extern for the NFL Players Association. I’m really excited to be a part of the NFLPA’s externship program and thought it’d be cool to share my experience to give you all some insight into what the players union does from the best perspective there is: a player’s.

Today was my first real day on the job after spending Monday in orientation. I learned a lot yesterday about how to network, how to be more presentable, and how to make yourself marketable. It was a real good eye-opener that taught me how to step off the field and into the office. Football doesn’t last forever, so the more I can learn to help build revenue streams for my next phase of life, the better off I’ll be.

After grabbing brunch and meeting with HR to get my computer set up, I met with the communications manager, Brandon Parker. One of the first questions I had — and a lot of players have — was, where do all of our union dues go? Like a lot of people, I thought the dues went to help paying the salaries and bills for the NFLPA. But what I learned, was that all of that money actually goes into what’s called a war chest, or a savings account of sorts, for money that will be used to pay the players if there’s a lockout and we stop getting our paychecks.

The money for the union comes from its marketing and licensing department called NFL Players Inc. What they do is negotiate deals where they get paid in exchange for using our likeness/image on video games, jerseys, and things like that. The players get a cut of that money through what’s called a group licensing agreement that we all sign before coming into the league and every year at our annual team meeting, we get our royalty check (AKA our “Madden check”).

Facts like that are why I saw this time at the NFLPA as a great learning experience to understand the flip side of how players are being taken care of and how the union is working to take care of us in the future through our benefits and other programs.

Just as insightful was my talk over lunch with the player directors. There are four guys, all former players, that divide up the NFL teams and serve as the direct contact for players to the union. We talked about issues and conversations that come up in the locker room a lot — stuff like work hours, should we play more games, should we dump extra money in benefits or the salary cap?

For me, I always say the perfect situation was when I played in Canada. Two preseason games, 18 regular season games, and then the playoffs. That was the best of everything because there were fewer preseason games that don’t really count, and you still got the same amount of time on the field; it was just more spaced out.

I know some people might think that the preseason isn’t all that bad since the games are more laid back and you don’t have to play the whole game, but what you all don’t know is the preseason can actually be worse on our bodies than a game week. Yes, preparing for a regular season is strenuous, but during a game week, you also get two days off — Monday and most of Tuesday. And then Friday is usually a half day. In the preseason, the first 10 days there are are no games — just training camp, which can be tough. So you’re going all in for six straight days and that can take its toll.

That was pretty much it for Day 1. Stay tuned because I’ll be back in this space for the next week giving you an inside look at my time at the NFLPA!