By Dylan Gonsalves, @DylanGonsFOS
Life after the NFL can be a tumultuous time for many players once their careers are finished. When the glitz and glamour wears off and the lights go out on their time as a professional football player, a number of them don't know where to turn.
The NFL Player’s Association, however, is doing everything that it can to help change that.
Now in its fourth year running, the NFLPA’s Externship program provides practical work experience and a glimpse into the future of life beyond the stadium walls.
Whether the players are looking to go into broadcasting, business, politics or some other pursuit, the goal of the program is to provide an opportunity to get a head start on their retirement.
Lasting from February 13th to March 3rd, the three-week program will take 41 externs from 19 teams and give them the opportunity to spend time with 15 organizations ranging from college athletics departments and nonprofits to sports apparel companies and national media outlets,
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While one could hope that their NFL success would be enough to support them in the long haul, with an average NFL career lasting just 3.3 years, it is never too early to start preparing.
Take it from former New York Giants’ running back Tiki Barber, for example. He would be happy to attest to that, as he practically spent 18 months doing nothing but sitting on his couch watching Netflix and talking to friends after he finished his NFL career.
If the Externship program can provide anything for the players, it is insight into their industry of interest and field of interest.
Over the course of three weeks, they’ll have opportunities to network and work with people in their field of choice, see day-to-day operations and activities, work on real-world projects, and obtain feedback. Although these players make hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars playing the game they love, a few years of savings will not get them very far.
“The Externship has become a staple program of this organization and has provided an opportunity for our members to obtain gainful experience and critical skills needed to excel during their NFL careers and beyond,” said Dana Hammonds, senior director of the NFLPA’s player affairs department. “These players are to be applauded as they have sacrificed time away from family and friends because they understand the value and concerted efforts, led by their union, to gain meaningful professional experience.”
If the program's growth is any indicator, going from 26 players to 41 players and from 10 companies to 14 in one year, this is only the start of something great.
Below is a look at the list of the externs as well as where they will be spending the three weeks.