By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Bruce Laird, the President of the Fourth & Goal Foundation. He attended American International College where he received dual degrees in History and Political Science and was an All-American his Junior and Senior year. Bruce was a Pro-Bowl defensive back whose career spanned 12 NFL seasons with the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers. He now devotes his time to helping retired players through his foundation. He was gracious enough to offer up his insight on how his playing days helped him get to where he is today, what it takes to run a foundation and how his foundation impacts retired NFL players.
What were your previous positions if any to your current position at your foundation?
I worked for a living in sales and marketing since retiring from football in 1986. In 2005 I founded the Fourth & Goal Foundation.
For people not familiar with the Fourth & Goal Foundation can you tell us a little about the foundation and what its goals are?
It is a conduit between the retired NFL player community through social media and a Google group to get the word out to retired players about their benefits and about what is happening with the CBA. It is an organization set up to advocate for retired players with both the league and the union. It serves as a way to gather retired players under one umbrella to give them the information they need in a timely manner without political spin.
How did being a professional football player help you get to where you are today? Do you apply things you learned on the field to running your foundation?
Organized sport is a great thing for people of the world as it makes you become a better individual and a better spouse. You learn a lot about yourself and how to stay motivated from organized sport. For me, it was the discipline that was the biggest factor along with the social impact of meeting players in so many parts of the country. The teamwork it takes to win football games taught me a lot about what it takes to be a good team member and is something I have taken with me throughout my career.
What is the average day like for a person in your position?
I balance a bevy of things from, staying in touch with retired players, speaking with the players union and with the league. We need to keep the players, especially those who retired before 1993 up to date on what is going on and what it means to them and their loved ones. We also work with advocates and non advocates in the media.
What is your favorite part about running your foundation?
Being part of a group of individuals in Baltimore and friends across the country that are able to talk to players, loved ones and widows. I love being a lone light that the players and families can reach out to to get the best information available and to be there so they know that someone is looking out for them and has their true interests at heart because there is no economic incentive for us to do anything else.
What is your favorite memory of playing in the NFL?
The lifelong friendships I have taken away from the game. I was very fortunate to play 14 years of professional football 12 in the NFL and 2 in the USFL. Football is a lot like life in terms of friendships. You gain 4 to 5 close friends through your profession and you carry them with you throughout your career no matter how far apart you are. It’s a true blessing I carry.
With the increasing concern over concussions in the NFL what would you like to see changed or made better?
I would like to see more clarity with how they the benefits for the players and I would like to see them reach out to others such as family members who are affected by the players injury to see how it is affecting them.
What was the best career advice you have received?
My best advice I received was from my playing days with the Baltimore Colts in which they told us to embrace where we play, get to know the business men in your community and always lend a hand. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and befriend people.
His foundation’s website is: fourthandgoalunites.org