You hear a lot about those select few NFL players who graduated from Harvard University. They’re the “geniuses” among the world’s best professional athletes. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who now plays for the Tennessee Titans, received a lot of buzz during the height of his time as Buffalo Bills starter because of his odd academic background. Ravens longtime center Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler, is known well for also having played at Harvard.
But how many players have you heard who have gone to Harvard after their football career is over? Not many, I bet. Well, that’s just one of the things that make Domonique Foxworth so special. In the Fall of 2013, Foxworth will be attending Harvard Business School, one of the world’s premier institutions of higher learning. A former Cornerback for the Ravens and Broncos as well as current NFLPA president, Foxworth will attempt to earn his MBA (Masters of Business Administration) Degree even after accruing a fair amount of money as a seven-year professional athlete.
Foxworth is deep (one and a half years) into his tenure as the National Football League Players’ Association president, where he has dealt with a plethora of big stories, ranging from the Bounty scandal to homophobic comments made by 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver to ongoing negotiations with the league and team owners.
Foxworth finds the job to be “pretty easy,” although he notes that, “When you’re doing your job well it goes unnoticed whereas when things aren’t going well people call it and leave messages and are upset about things. Toughest part is maintaining the confidence and the conviction in the path you’re taking through the up and downs.”
With just months left in his NFLPA presidential tenure, however, Foxworth is looking ahead, not backwards. At this point in their retirement, many NFL players are either broke or nearly there; it has been 12 months since Foxworth announced his retirement, and in that time, 47% of NFL players usually go bankrupt. Foxworth, however, is flourishing.
“I think there a lot of things in business that are comparable to the [NFLPA] negotiations with the league, and I can’t play football forever,” Foxworth told Khandyman in a recent interview. “I also think that the negotiations with the owners; before that time, I thought of the team owners as these big, kind of, really, really successful and really, really smart businessmen and kind of thought they were out my league, but after the negotiations I think it dawned on me that I was just as smart and just as savvy as them business-wise, they just had a lot of experience and I’m not afraid to work hard and gain experience.”
Foxworth is interested in “landing a pretty nice stable salary,” but obviously that is the least of his worries. What he hopes to really get out of attending business school, especially one as diverse and connected as Harvard, is “the confidence and the understanding and it’ll help in finding a career path to make a second career in business.”
Nowadays more than ever you see football players who are looking to establish careers after football. Some stay in the sports world, pursuing careers in broadcasting and analysis; examples include NFL on FOX’s Michael Strahan and ESPN’s Cris Carter. Other former NFL stars have been successful launching business ventures, similar to what Foxworth plans on doing, including linebacker Dhani Jones, offensive lineman Ryan Diem, and cornerback Donald Strickland.
None, however, will have the added advantage of being a former NFLPA president and Harvard Business School graduate, quite impressive feats. Of the type of project he might pursue after business school, Foxworth remarked, “I just really like projects that are creative and maintain integrity . . . I’m in a position financially where I can stick to activities and programs and initiatives that maintain integrity and involve creativity.”
No matter what he pursues, it is likely Foxworth will succeed. He’s demonstrated the integrity, confidence, business savvy, and motivation necessary to succeed in the business world and one can only think the sky is the limit.
Hopefully his example is one future NFL players choose to follow.