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NFL Athletes Gain Valuable Experience Through NFLPA Career Development Programs

  • The NFLPA prepares players for life after football through work opportunities with a number of organizations.
  • Interested organizations can apply now to be considered for inclusion in the NFLPA’s Career Development Programs.
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For some professional athletes, transitioning to life after their playing career can be difficult. 

Since 2014, the NFLPA has offered current NFL players the opportunity to gain valuable work experience with organizations like Fanatics, Fox Sports, The Players’ Tribune, United Way, and more through their career development programs. Partners offer a variety of opportunities from initial informational interviews to job shadows to the NFLPA Externship. Program options also include job fairs, fellowships and internships for transitioning and former players.  

“We want to set these up so that they are mutually beneficial exchanges,” Connor Ford, Player Manager at the NFLPA, told Front Office Sports. “It’s not just about players getting some experience in a certain industry. These men are highly talented, highly disciplined, have great ideas, and their work ethic is unparalleled. All those intangible, foundational skills are what employers will be looking for in new hires. On the other side, partners breathe life into new career options for these athletes.”

Recent notable experiences include Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Josh Dobbs, who earned a degree in aerospace engineering at Tennessee, completing an externship with NASA working at the Kennedy Space Center. New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis completed a few rounds of the program with United Way, contributing to their Character Playbook platform and overall athlete engagement. 

Dobbs, along with several other former externs, also spent time working with Fanatics to gain insight into how the apparel brand operates. Fanatics HR Manager Teige Horrigan commented on his experience supporting the program. 

“This program provides Fanatics with the opportunity to align players’ interests with their areas of expertise,” Horrigan said. “Over the past several years Fanatics has gone on to hire six former externs. “Many of their skills on the field transition extremely well to the corporate world. We’re always on the lookout to find the best match for everyone involved.”

Over the last six years, the NFLPA Externship specifically has helped 243 NFL athletes connect with 56 different organizations to develop off the field. The programs continue to grow each year as more players are focused on life outside of their sport and more organizations realize the value NFL athletes bring to the table. 

“Bringing in candidates who have demonstrated the ability to reach the top level of their sport carry with them numerous transferable skills that would make them successful in a lot of different areas of the professional world,” Ford said. “To have partners buy-in to provide space for them to realize those skills, put them to work, and set themselves up for future opportunities is a really exciting thing that again can lead to a win on both sides.”

Interested organizations can apply now to be considered for inclusion in the NFLPA’s Career Development Programs. To be considered for inclusion in the 2021 NFLPA Externship specifically, applications must be submitted by July 31st.

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