In the National Football League, players must work many long hours to prepare for their opponent each week of the season. Studying film, reviewing the game plan, and putting in additional work after practice are done to give the player and his team the best chance to have success on Sunday.
What happens when a player takes a similar approach and applies it to another field of study? This offseason Quinton Coples, linebacker of the New York Jets, decided to learn more about the consumer products industry, giving himself an opportunity to have success not only in the game of football but off the field as well.
The NFL Boot Camp in Consumer Products is a four-day program held in Baltimore. Current and former NFL players are exposed to the world of business, in the area of consumer products and are taught by industry professionals, business school faculty and the NFL's consumers products department. (That's Quinton on the right of the photo above at the end of his boot camp.)
"I met a lot of great people," Coples said as we began discussing his overall impression and experience of the boot camp. "I thought it was a great opportunity to meet with people, to be engaged with people, and to just learn about the business."
Coples also felt he really benefited from the older players who were in attendance. "They were definitely more into it and farther along than I was," he said, "but they taught me a lot and were proud that I was there because it showed a lot being that I was a young guy attending something of that nature and taking advantage of the resources at this age."
Listening to Quinton Coples made me reflect on my own experiences with boot camps. Several years ago I participated in the NFL's Pro Hollywood boot camp in California. I learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes work of the film industry and got a better idea as to what career opportunities were available to me. I recognized the value in that experience.
And when I learned of the attendance of former New York Jet Plaxico Burress and other veteran players across the league attending the consumer product boot camp, it was confirmation to me that the boot camps were indeed valuable resources.
I asked Quinton how he thought the information learned at the boot camp would impact his future.
"I definitely think it prepared me and it gave me a bunch of information as far as preparing for life after football," he said. "We all know that this game will end someday. We just don't know when."
Learning about what resources are available to players is very important, given the validity of Coples' statement. As players we may not know when our days of football are over, but that doesn't mean that we can't be proactive when it comes to preparing for the future. By using the techniques we have learned for so many years while playing this game, we can learn how to be successful in a new field of study.