The path to a potential handshake with the commissioner on draft night begins the first time a player straps on pads and a helmet. But with more than 1 million high school players and only about 300 NFL openings each year, the odds are astronomical that a player will make it from high school to the highest levels of the sport. The league and its programs are about more than producing on-field talent —they’re about developing people with the character and leadership skills to succeed, in football or elsewhere. Andre and I talked about his NFL career, post-career work with Beyond The Game Network, and the foundational values of teamwork, commitment, and leadership. And how football can be a catalyst for greater personal development at every level of play. Andre graduated from Florida State University and completed an eight-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions.
After graduating from Florida State University and completing an eight-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions, Andre saw an issue that most NFL players go through, but is not really talked about too often; pro athletes are on a team for their entire lives, but after the game is over with, there is no team. There is no head coach. After sports, an athlete is expected to win at business with the same success as they had on the field. But, nobody talks about that an athlete has been a professional at football for 15+ years, and then have to compete with a business executive that has 25+ years of business experience. The odds of success for that are the same odds of a business executive trying to play in the NFL, they are very low!
Instead of trying to compete, Andre saw the best thing to do was collaborate. He found some of the smartest business executives around and asked if they were willing to help him create a “post-career team” that combines the influence of athletes and the experience of businessmen/women. This is where Beyond the Game was born. BTG is a network of athletes and business execs that come together to educate, invest, and empower each other. The awesome thing about our group is that the athletes do not invest their money, nor are there any fees for any athlete. EVER! Our network works like this: Business execs invest in highly vetted startups as a group. We only invest in startups that offer some type of brand ambassador compensation (cash or equity) to our athletes. So everyone wins! This is the beauty of Beyond the Game.
Andre believes that giving back is an important component to his ongoing success. He hosts a yearly no-cost youth football and cheering camp in his hometown of Cartersville, Georgia, and also, he frequently participates in speaking engagements for many charitable organizations. He, his wife, and two daughters live in Georgia.