Like so many kids, I always dreamed of playing football. When I finally got my chance playing wide receiver in the NFL it was literally a dream come true. I was fortunate to play for over three years for the San Francisco 49ers, St.Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. But like most dreams they evaporate quickly. Because of a career ending injury my life in the NFL evaporated. While I played I had money and I was doing what I loved best, but I had no idea that one day I would be completely broke. I literally went from making 30k a month to zero, and that completely changed my life. I lost houses, cars and friends but gained a new passion and purpose in life. Now I’m committed to helping athletes, and everybody I can to find financial freedom.
In my opinion, the one word we need to change is “transition”. There are many people looking to help athletes with the transition. However, from my personal experience if you wait until the transition period arrives, you’re already too late. No player ever leaves on their own terms. No one wants to leave the game they’ve been playing from the time they were 7 years old. Look at Kobe Bryant, think he wants to stop playing? No way. But at this point his body is giving him no other choice. In football especially, you never know when an injury might end your career forever.
So, my motto is “from 10 to 10 year veteran”. I think we need to connect with athletes even before high school to start planting the seeds about money management and lifestyle management. Let’s change the transition into “continuation”. When I left football I had no idea what I wanted to do. I tried so many things, I was jack of all, master of none. I spent a full year with Morgan Stanley’s wealth management program because I never wanted any athlete to go through the pain and depression that I did, but I found myself meeting with CEO’s doctors, lawyers and not very many athlete’s.
Then I went out on my own trying to get meetings with new clients. I knew I had talent in communication so I figured I could get out, rack up clients and start helping them. But at the end of the day I wasn’t able to reach all the clients I wanted. My reach was limited and therefore my impact was minimal.
Part of the advantage of being a former NFL player is that you’re trained to never give up. While I hadn’t yet achieved my goal I was determined to succeed. That’s when I realized that I had a better chance of reaching so many more people by writing a book. But again, I hadn’t been prepared for that and honestly I had no idea how to do that. The good news was, as surprising as this sounds, I wasn’t the first one to decide to write a book. With the right networking and lots of hard work I was able to accomplish my goal and publish Millionaire Mindset. It has reached thousands of people and I’m feeling tremendous satisfaction in being able to improve the mindset of both players and young adults looking to plan their future.
Today’s player has at their fingertips more than the top CEO had fifteen years ago. One of the biggest assets players have is their network. While businesses struggle to make connections, players have the opportunity to create a tremendous network for themselves. When you’re in sports, people just want to be around you because it gives them a feeling of being part of what they love. Players can create large social media followings, they can interact with fans, they can get fans to sign up with their emails. Once you’ve done that, when you continue with life after sports, you have a solid foundation to build on. Players are not just going to get big endorsement deals anymore; they’re going to build networks that even the biggest companies won’t have access to. But like everything else, if you don’t utilize the opportunity as early as you can it will be too late. My mission is get athletes to understand the importance of preparing themselves for their life after sports, and showing them the great power they have while they’re playing the game they love. In closing, my advice to any current player is: Realize the power you have, and start utilizing it the minute you sign your contract!
Brandon Williams is a former NFL Wide-Receiver, current broadcaster, speaker, life and business coach and author. He’s on the front lines when it comes to educating and motivating pro athletes to create enduring financial freedom. Through his pain and up’s and down’s from a career-ending injury, Brandon learned how to succeed and thrive despite the interceptions that life often deals unexpectedly. His passion is sharing the principles that have helped him build a successful post-NFL career life. Equipped with entrepreneurial instincts and clarity of vision, Brandon has developed a motivational speech entitled, “How to Become an ITT Player” based from his experience with highly successful people in sports and business. He talks about what it takes to succeed at a high level. He delivers his powerful lecture about gaining strength and perseverance to overcome obstacles and life challenges to both high school, college and corporate audiences.