NFL Players Learn Business Skills in Weeklong HBS Program

Executive Education program preps 40 athletes for business world

While most of their teammates are relaxing during the offseason, 40 National Football League players spent this week at the Harvard Business School participating in the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program.

The workshop, which is part of HBS’s Executive Education program, aims to prepare players for life after football by instilling a better understanding of the business world.

The course, which is open to current players and retirees, has become increasingly popular since its inception six years ago.

The players participating in  this year’s program include Dallas D. Clark and Anthony E. Gonzalez of the Indianapolis Colts; Jason P. Taylor of the Miami Dolphins; Patrick W. Kearney, John D. Carlson, and Olindo F. Mare of the Seattle Seahawks; and Brandon Moore of the New York Jets. The Seahawks and Colts are the most heavily represented teams, with four players each.

“As you play in the League for a few years, you start realizing that this isn’t forever,” Clark said. “I think that’s the biggest fear for the majority of NFL players.”

The program’s classes, which employ the Business School’s case method teaching style, provide participants with a foundation in topics such as management, negotiation, entrepreneurship, legal issues, and business plan analysis.

Both Morten Andersen, a retired record-holding kicker, and Jamie Silva, a second-year Colts safety, said they enjoyed the case study aspect of the program.

“There’s not a real wrong answer or a right answer—it’s focused more on your own opinion,” Silva said. “I’m being taught to ask the proper questions.”

HBS Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs W. Carl Kester said he helped create the NFL program after he was approached by Michael J. Haynes, NFL vice president of player and employee development.

Working with members of the NFL Players Association, Kester and Haynes devised a curriculum that would teach players to be better business owners and managers.

In order take part in the workshop, players had to fill out an application that included a short essay. According to Silva, more than 100 players applied.

“I think this is a great tool that the NFL offers,” Clark said. “Being taught by these professors is a true joy.”

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at tmerrigan@college.harvard.edu.

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