The National Football League (NFL) Player Care Foundation hosted its third edition of the Super Bowl Career Fair to support former players into finding new careers after leaving the field.
With the average career span of many NFL players only lasting between two and three years, it is becoming increasingly important for many athletes to seek careers that will support themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.
In 2007, the NFL Player Care Foundation was formed, to help improve the quality of life former NFL players and with that, came the Super Bowl Career Fair.
This years edition took place during a global pandemic and was therefore held remotely through a career portal that allowed for employers to to advertise potential opportunities to those who might have been interested.
Over 40 national businesses took part, including the likes of PepsiCo, who have employed quarterback Cleo Lemon and Tony Dixon, a defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys for four years.
"It has taken the athletes who have had a successful career in these organisations to get the organisations to recognise the value they can bring, and they are adding tremendous value to these organisations," said Dixon, whose role is titled as director of customer management.
"As many skills as we are taught through sports, they are very transferable to any organisation. How to persevere. How to deal with pressure. How to have a short memory. How to be a good teammate.
"That is the gap that we have. The NFL is a wonderful experience to have, but if you are not in the top percentage of most teams, you do not have facial recognition and might not have name recognition."
Lemon had NFL coaching internships and was a quarterback coach for the college team at Jacksonville State, however, his commitments meant that he was kept away from his family too much, which led him to attend the career fair last year in Miami.
"I went with an open mind and with my resumés, and really the idea of what I was looking for, but I didn’t know what would be offered or what the opportunities would be," Lemon said. "The career fair was very informative.
"For me, what it has represented is a chance to put myself out there for companies who are looking for young and talented individuals trying to expand outside their comfort zone … and get to know people from different organisations and see that what they were doing aligned with my principles. The fair was a tool that helped me take advantage of my opportunities."
From there, Lemon was hired by PepsiCo and has been in the role since last September.
In total, 153 former players have at least spoke to one potential employer, an opportunity that may never have presented itself to these athletes had it not been for the career fair and the NFL Player Care Foundation.
Author: Jake Wilkin