NFL Breeds Second Career Franchisees

(Originally posted on 9/10/12)

Kick-off week of the 2012 NFL season opened to tremendous fan-fare. Yesterday, the priority tasks on every fans’ to-do list was watch football, check scores, and watch more football.

The NFL and its players did not disappoint.

The Robert Griffin III era in Washington started off strong;  Adrian Peterson became the Vikings’ all-time rushing yardage leader after return from a season ending ACL injury; and Petyon Manning shined as the new quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Not bad for week one.

These moments captured our attention and put us on the edge of our seats. The NFL has mastered the art of “the moment.” Its players are trained to deliver at a moment’s notice. They go to work each Sunday with that one goal in mind – being the best today, not tomorrow.

What happens when the moment is over?

According to NFL communications, the average length of a players’ career is six years. And the while multi-million dollar contracts consistently make the headlines, the average salary is $1.9 million and the median is $770,000.

If NFL players don’t prepare for life after football, a grim future could be ahead. Despite efforts by the NFL and the NFLPA to educate players through transition programs, according to Sports Illustrated, it is estimated that two years after retiring from professional football, 78% of the former players will file for bankruptcy or suffer economic stress.

One of the biggest hurdles is explaining to 21 year olds fresh out of college who just signed multi-million dollar deals that they need to prepare for retirement now and spend only one tenth of their income. That is not an easy task when your audience is living in the moment.

And for the athletes who listen to the advice and try to plan for the future, what is missing for them are specific action steps that the players can successfully implement. That’s where organizations like the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative (PAFI) come into play.

Founded in 2010 by Michael Stone, a retired NFL player (New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and New York Giants), PAFI connects professional athletes to the franchise industry.

Before retiring from the NFL, Stone saw a trend where a number of players were entering retirement and trying to figure out what was next and how to transition.

It wasn’t until a meeting with former NBA player and franchisee, Junior Bridgeman, when Stone recognized the need for PAFI. Bridgeman owns roughly 200 franchise units and is one of the largest franchisees in America. During their conversation Stone learned the merits of franchising, from an athlete’s perspective.

Franchising has a game plan is already in place, which parallels the execution side in of sports. It allows athletes to fulfill their entrepreneurial spirit without starting a business from scratch, which is the area where Stone sees athletes losing the most money. Moreover, franchising offers statistical information, marketing support and brand recognition.

PAFI’s goal is to educate athletes about opportunities, such as franchising, that are a fit for an athlete when they retire. Stone notes that the franchise industry provides the same kind of support that sport offers an athlete when they’re playing the game.

You would think that PAFI’s goal is to create as many franchise opportunities as possible. In actuality, Stone says they are happy if an athlete goes through their education and decides not to become a franchisee. PAFI strives to manage expectations and protect those athletes who would look at franchising as an easy money making opportunity.

Roughly 150 athletes have completed PAFI’s education. Currently, the initiative is full partners with the National Basketball Retired Players Association, and they are bridging relationships with the NBAPA and NFLPA.

PAFI is supported by franchisors who are their charter members. The brands support the initiative and benefit when the athletes, who they might work with in the future, are educated. Current charter members include: Zip’s Dry Cleaner, Jamba Juice, Carl’s Jr. / Hardees, Happy’s Pizza, Gold’s Gym, and Dunkin’ Donuts (Here’s a complete list).

Over the next several years, PAFI’s goal is to connect every league to their organization and expose all athletes to their education. Stone thinks all athletes are in a similar situation; they make a good amount of money when they’re young and retire young searching for something to leverage in their next career.

Good Night Sports Fans,


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