Redefining Identity for the Business World

Redefining Identity for the Business World
July 25 12:12 2017 Print This Article

 Jabari Greer turned being an undrafted free agent in 2004 to playing 10 seasons in the NFL as a cornerback, including as a member of the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints. Following his career, Greer has remained in front of the camera as a studio football analyst for multiple networks. Take a listen to our interview with Greer on how he went from picking off quarterbacks to picking the brains of his NFL peers during his playing days to prepare for life off the field.

Jay: I believe that athletes are incredible entrepreneurs and work for years developing their craft, hoping someone gives them a career opportunity. At the same time, we’re constantly reading stories in the news about athletes who don’t have a career when they’re finished playing and end up broke. But with the outbreak of social media, I think we’re going to see a lot of opportunities that players will be able to give themselves showing their underlining talents. As a former athlete, I would love to hear your take on this transition and what you think we’re going to be seeing in the coming years.

Jabari: I think that is an incredible thing for athletes to get involved with. As a professional athlete, I understood that is needed to not only further market your personality, but also your brand. There are many examples of players not being in position for the next phase of their lives following their playing days. Post-career success won’t appear naturally. It takes training, meeting the right people and asking the right questions. Every player will at some point need to find their true identity to better leverage their brand, no matter how successful they were on the field. It would be sort of reintroducing themselves back into society that may not involve the sport they played between the lines.
Jay: Was it a difficult transition for you? Were there some keys that you used that you’ve given to other players who went through something similar?

Jabari: Yes, because my career ended so abruptly. All it took was one play. Just like that, I had to begin working on who I was outside of football. However, I was more prepared emotionally because after 10 years in the NFL, retirement at the time wasn’t far from my mind. But looking back on it, I knew football was just something I did and not something that defined me. Therefore, my advice to any player who goes through that transition is to understand that once you leave the game, you have to find healthy outlets to fill that void. From the start of my career, I was always trying to answer the question “what’s next?” So many players deal with that. That’s why you see many players now doing internships and starting businesses during their careers. They’re trying to reintroduce themselves while they’re playing because they never know when their playing days will come to an end. It’s only through giving yourself that opportunity to redefine yourself that you can have that successful transition.

Jay: Was there someone you emulated during your career, whether it was someone you tried to create your game after, reached out to for advice or just an idol whose brain you always wanted to pick?   

Jabari: A few people come to mind. On the business side, it was Troy Vincent who’s currently the Vice President of Football Operations for the NFL. But when we were teammates with the Buffalo Bills, he was the president of the NFL Players Association. I remember times when I would be at his house and see him work. I watched how he would meticulously craft his documents. He was one of those guys who set the example of successfully running a business as a player. It was his organizational skills as well as his preparation that was something I’ve always tried to emulate. Terrence McGee is another player and former teammate of mine with the Bills who comes to mind. Terrence had the best athletic skills I’ve ever seen. But he also had an incredible work ethic. For example, he was the type of guy who would attend rookie minicamp just so he could get the work in. He was the type of guy who would get extra work in with the scout team, even though he was our starting cornerback. Nothing was too small for Terrence. His act of true humility changed the way I approach anything when it comes to business or athletics.

Jay: Looking back during and after your career, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?  

Jabari: Instead of advice, the best piece of action I’ve ever taken would be to pick the brain of veteran players who’ve been around the game a long time. Whether it was sports or business, I just wanted to sit down and let them teach me. I remember when I was a rookie with the Bills, we had great veterans who would send me to get things for them. When I would return, I would sit at the table with them and ask them questions for 30 minutes. I would ask anything from how they last in this game for so long to asking about their diet. The best thing I’ve ever done was sitting down with a veteran player or businessperson and soaking up every piece of advice they would give me.

Jabari Greer is a former American football cornerback in the National Football League. He played college football at Tennessee and was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2004. Greer also played for the New Orleans Saints. Jabari has sinced established The Greer Campaign – a non-profit organization aimed at providing multiple resources that are designed to strategically improve our communities by first improving the strongest foundation therein…our families. Providing research-based, progressive programs that assist non-traditional families, including but not limited to, single parents, adopted children and foster children, in adapting to society in the same ways as traditional families, this is a dream realized for Jabari. Through its programs, this charity for families, aims to achieve one of its main goals of mentoring young children, allowing them to feel just as prevalent in society and having them accept who they are. In its short existence, The Greer Campaign has made a significant difference for families throughout the Jackson, TN and New Orleans, LA communities.