Why I Dropped out of the NFL…Unicorns, Golden Parachutes and The American Dream 

I’m Lawrence, I’m 31 and I dropped out of the NFL. Even after foregoing a Master’s Degree to focus on football. In America, there is no sense of financial satiation, there is always more to desire, buy and one has to keep the money printer on. Work, work, work, work. America’s most powerful economy that people don’t speak to you about is the Time Economy. Everybody’s time is for sale, it’s just a price set on markets that revolve around skills. I sold my time too. I sold it to the NFL and football, high stakes capitalism. I was a propertyless worker in an engine, where I was an expendable part. I was even part of a Union and a lockout. I woke up everyday and did not enjoy getting out of bed to do something that I wanted to do but I didn’t want to do it there. I felt disengaged, I felt my skill set was underutilized and under appreciated. So I decided that I needed to take a closer look at how my time and money equated with the time I was putting in. For 10 months out of the year I got about $850k per year over 5 years with a bonus up front. That’s $85k per month or about $2,800 a day. That sounds like a lot. Which, it is, if you do the bare minimum. But if you want to be great, it’s a 24/7 job. Today actually starts the night before, actually when you get home the day before. My last year, my schedule went as such. Post Wednesday practice, stretch, ice tub, shower, eat, meeting, trigger point and stretch work in meeting, and 1.5 liters of water, take two coolers of ice home from the training room. Go home, load up the game ready, ice my ankles, calves, knees, quads, hips and shoulders. One section but both sides at a time for 20 minutes, each section. Eat dinner. Get into hyperbaric chamber for 2 hours and watch film for thursdays install, 1 liter of water. Then sleep. Wake up drive to work, hot tub, stretch, meeting time trigger point work, hot tub, practice. Repeat. Tuesday and Fridays, included a 2.5-3 hour massage and chiropractic work. 
I say this to say that, just because I do this work, doesn’t mean I get paid for that time. On the contrary, just because someone is getting paid a lot doesn’t mean they’re working that much. I also had to quantify the risk of permanent injury with a role on special teams. Someone making $10 million a year, would make $1m per month or $33,333 per day. So $2,800 per day vs $33,333 per day. That’s a huge difference, especially when your 1st year on the team, while making less than $1m, you were the most productive player on the team on a per play basis. As a businessman thats fundamentally wrong, and ultimately a bad business deal for me. Especially considering I don’tset the market, thus my value is tied to gate keepers perspective. Driving it up or down with media exposure or coaches approval and preferential situational opportunities to excel. In the NFL, the best man doesn’t play. It’s the man they paid to do a job that will play, even if he’s not as effective. 
This led me to look at my accrued earnings and the value of my intellectual property, my lifestyle and my time to broke, if everything failed. What I came up with surprised me. I had already become a millionaire at the age of 21, was in the top 1% of earners for 5 years and I saved over 60% of my post tax earnings. I had money, I had ideas, I had access and I was in America. I’d realize I accomplished everything that  I set out for. Stability. But I wanted more. I wanted to own my own time. I knew that I could do much more than produce 35% play time 4 sacks and 15 tackles for 10 months of hard core focus and persistence. I knew I had to study and invest my time learning how to become self-made. In my research, I learned that most people with a lot, started with nothing but an idea. They were determined and forced their way across the finish line. They turned nothing into something. This is what I wanted to do. I always saw football as a gift from God that I didn’t earn. I showed up and did my best. But I didn’t give my all, because all of me couldn’t be expressed while playing football. 
Football was my dream and I risked my life to play, with my health conditions, against doctors orders as a youth. I endured 1,000s of hours of pain and swallowed thousands of pills, attempting to control my bodies recovery and repair process. But I knew that I had to walk away from my Dream to walk into my purpose. As fun as it was getting a sack on Monday Night and Sunday Night Football, it’s more fun knowing that I can go to the bookstore and search for information that will give some young kid in the future a better chance. Giving my time to football, I could do for me. But the exchange wasn’t as valuable as it needed to be. I’d reached my peak and I noticed. I wasn’t going to wait to crash land, I was going to take my Golden Parachute and plunge back down to reality. To America, where anybody can be anything. I used my earnings and built my future and bought out my time. I paid myself 40 hours a week minimum wage for the rest of my life, so that I can spend my time creating the future. I want more. I want to go from rags to riches to mogul to legend. I want to squeeze all of the juice out of the American Dream as possible. I leveraged my skill set to get educated and to get capital to start my business. I am Richard Branson. I am Will Smith. I am Steve Jobs. I am Jay Z. I am Barak Obama. I am Jeff Bezos. I am Mark Zuckerberg. I am a Unicorn. Because this is America and I can be what I want to be. So I am Me. A descendent of hunters and gathers, my adaptability and ability to learn new skills should not be underestimated. You have been warned. I am here to stay.