Rand Getlin will be the first one to tell you he’s had an unorthodox career path. From earning a law degree, to on-air work at the NFL Network, and most recently, starting his own media company, the entrepreneur has always cared deeply about using his journey to inspire the next generation of dreamers.
“The ride is short, so we don’t have much time to make our mark,” he said, “but if you believe you can achieve more, and you’re willing to work for it, you can absolutely make it to the mountaintop.”
A former NFL insider for Yahoo! Sports and the NFL Network, Getlin is currently enjoying the steepest climb of his life — one that has seen him move on from a career on the inside of the mainstream media to launching Park Stories, an upstart production company.
His new venture was created to tell powerful stories in impossibly beautiful ways, highlighting thought-provoking, heartwarming and inspirational messages from athletes, in documentaries that are far more about life than they are about sports.
“Park Stories is a passion project for us,” Getlin said. “It’s the sum of everything we’ve ever wanted to do. We wake up every day with an opportunity to tell compelling stories about people and issues that matter, with an eye toward creating positive societal change.”
So far, Park Stories has released three mini-documentaries that gave people unique insight into Duke freshman Zion Williamson, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
The episodes, which range from approximately seven to 10 minutes each, have generated just under nine million organic views collectively.
“We’re extremely proud of how these stories have been received so far,” said Getlin, who divulged that 79 percent of his audience is between the ages 13-34. “They’re pressing play, sticking with us through the episodes, and sharing and evangelizing after they’re done watching. We’re thankful for each and every one of them, because their love and support for our work has validated every bet we made when we jumped into this space.”
Park Stories is also using other analytics and data-driven insights to help shape its programming practices, all geared toward improving the content and adding value to the brands of the athletes who choose to work with the company.
“We partner with athletes who want to share their truth with the masses, in an incredibly honest and unique way,” Getlin said. “To that end, it’s really important to us that viewers walk away from watching one of our pieces with uncommon insight into their world. Athletes have told us they appreciate our approach because they see how much care we put into telling their story properly. We’re driven by our passion for making sure they’re seen in the most empowering, impactful light possible, and we hope that shines through in every piece we do.”
So, how exactly did Getlin end up here? After leaving the NFL Network in September of 2016, he was at a crossroads in his career. He could continue down the path he was on — one that was safe, highly visible and lucrative — or take a leap of faith into the unknown. It didn’t take long for him to have the moment of clarity that brought Park Stories to life.
“I realized the most valuable asset we have in life is freedom,” he said. “The kind you can’t find when you’re working for someone else. So rather than taking a job at another major media company, I decided to become a full-time, independent storyteller. Nearly two years later, and against all odds, here we are, doing the most meaningful work of our lives.”
As a reporter, Getlin worked feverishly to form a strong network that allowed him to break national news and become a household name with fans who consume football content on a daily basis, but he couldn’t figure out why he didn’t feel fulfilled.
“As an insider, once you crack the code on breaking news, you do relatively similar work for the rest of your career. I was 33 at the time, and it really struck me. ‘For the next 30 years, I’m going to be telling people what players signed with what team at what price,’” he said. “Not to diminish the value of that work, but I’ve always been intellectually curious and I was terrified that I’d look up 10 years down the road, and be unhappy with how monotonous my career had become.”
So, as quickly as Getlin ascended the ladder of NFL journalism, he made the decision to jump off it to head in a different direction — one that he says has led to immense satisfaction and personal growth.
“Even when people are telling you you’re out of your mind, you have to believe in the power of your vision.” said Getlin. “A lot of people understandably questioned what I was doing. ‘Wait, you’re leaving the NFL Network? You’re not going to ESPN or Bleacher Report? And you’re going to give up being on national television to start your own production company?’
“As crazy as it sounded, my answer was, ‘Yep, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, because I know there’s a way to make a bigger, more positive impact.’ And thankfully, the results are beginning to speak for themselves.”
As for the future, Park Stories will be releasing its next documentary in the coming days, which Getlin says will be “a very powerful, evolutionary step forward for us as purpose-driven storytellers.”
“We’re telling stories that matter, about incredible people doing amazing things, and making sure they’re given the respect and support they deserve. And we can’t think of any better way to spend our days.”