Part 2: The NFL and Capitalism

The delivery of means to an ends was no longer suitable, I was getting paid money that I wouldn’t spend for 10-15 years. With that, I was working for my future self and my future self wanted something different. My future self told me that I had everything that I needed to do what my soul needed to do.

So I took a risk. I left the system to become a full-time entrepreneur. I wanted to create a new means of production of ideas, that make the capitalist become a participant in his own system. Offering a better value proposition than traditional capitalism, which over the long-haul will force capitalism to stand in line to serve those they once exploited.

Going into college I had three goals: To become an All-American, to be drafted in the first round, and to force them to sell my jersey. But I’d made a decision that since I had already suffered a near career ending injury while being off the field, that I would no longer put all my eggs into one basket. I mean, besides, I was at one of the greatest institutions in the world. Knowing that I was choosing to be exploited, I chose to exploit my schools resources. I chose to study Philosophy and Sociology, using my time in school to turn myself into a professional human. In April 2008, the hard work paid off, I was drafted in the first round to the Seahawks with the 28th pick. I was an INSTANT MILLIONAIRE.

Anybody would want this right? Well I got exactly what I asked for. What I didn’t realize is the NFL really was a business. People’s jobs were on the line, the owners want to make a profit and the players cost money. If college was the training grounds, the NFL was the Gladiator Arena, the Best of the Best. A daily fight for survival. Everything mattered. What time you showed up for work, to workouts, how you treated people, it seems like they build an active case to fire you.

I’d felt prepared going in having scored in the high 90’s on the sports psych test I took pre draft at The Athletic Performance Institute. During those session I would become mentally prepared for the unknown. The things outside of my control. I could have the best intentions, which I did, Michael Strahan 2.0, but theres still unknown unknowns.

I had to prepare mentally for injury, politics, and underperformance. All things I would go on to face in the NFL.

At first everything was great, new money, new car, new life, a new me. Suddenly everything I had wanted, I had or could get. Money lost it’s appeal. The focus returned to being a football player. And this is when I realized that I was in trouble. I’d signed a contract for 5 years and had already been given money. I couldn’t quit on my obligations and I still had to fulfill my purpose.

My first two years were chaotic. Holmgrem was actively retired, we stunk and the next head coach was on staff. My first year I displaced my cuboid but never showed up on the injury report, while fans and teammates wondered If I was a bust or not. I knew I was just hurt. But I took my lumps in stride. The second year I started strong before having to put the team first by playing out of position at right defensive end. Dan Quinn said  “This is gonna suck for you, but it’s the best thing for the team.” I got trashed in the media with no support.

After silently requesting a trade, my wishes were finally granted and off to Detroit I went. A new team, a new start and a new perspective. Due to injury to others I played in 10 of 16 games and according to PFF, I was the most productive Lion on a per play basis. You’d think this would be a turning point in the system and I’d be ready for another year…the year would’ve been my 4th season and capitalizing on the years prior success, I would’ve set myself up for a chance to get a nice deal.

This is when I realized how much of a business it was. Despite having factual evidence of outperforming the starter, I still was left to a reserved role.

All my hopes and dreams with football would come crashing down. At a fork in the road I had a decision to make. If I’m giving them 10 months out of the year, putting total well-being at risk, while losing…how good is the money really?

Once I got to this point, I was reminded of capitalism and how I was selling my time for pennies on the dollar. Putting my greatest asset, my brain at risk. So I decided that once my contract was up I would retire and start life.

I’d reached my financial satiation and needed to fulfill my souls calling. To be an entrepreneur. If Jay Z could start with less than a million dollars and no degree and no platform but the streets, I should be able to do what he did. I was educated and a millionaire.

I’d endured the conditions of the NFL because it was a means to an ends, either greatness or start-up capital. My road to greatness became treacherous and my time was more valuable in the community, so I decided to leave the system.

Leaving the money behind has been the biggest challenge, I haven’t had W-2 income since 2013, I’ve liquidated my stock portfolio and sold my Seattle home in order to buy my own time and to create my own conditions. A chance to create my own form of Capitalism. As they say, If you want things done right you have to do them yourself.

So I walked. I left the cash and took the equity. I realized I had friends and mentors who operate in the most elite circles, I realized that they could trust me. I leaned on my degree and my time at USC to create a life post football. It wasn’t easy but it needed to be don. I was alienated from myself as I was 100% committed to the football player and my spirit was broken. As a millionaire I was depressed and suicidal, when I should’ve been happy and thriving. But I realized that I had a choice. I could continue playing and endure the capitalistic conditions, handing over my time for a check or I could walk away and buy my own time and create a life that I am happy waking up to.

In that, I no longer wear a helmet nor shoulder pads, my new weapon is the pen and the new game is life. I was exploited but along the way, I got what I needed to get started. So getting started is what I did.