A few years ago I wrote a letter to Mark Murphy, President of the Green Bay Packers. My aim was to offer a program to his players and in effect the NFL introducing golf as a life option. He did contact me and indicated he would refer my thoughts to his Director of Player Development.
My reason for contacting the Packers was multi-faceted. First of all I doubted they had ever been approached on this level before. Football players and golf? Sure, a few guys around the league played the game. More and more were being introduced to it through their friends. Yet most players had no clue as to what the game was about. They probably saw it as an elitist endeavor, played by wealthy white guys. Where was the appeal in that?
I wanted to introduce new options through golf. I wanted players to see the game as a viable tool that could help them in different ways. Golf has been an influential force throughout my life. Sharing some of those examples with Packers players and hopefully players of other teams might improve lives after football. If just one player could benefit, my efforts would be well worth it.
Many of us know the average tenure in the NFL is a little over three years. Players leaving the league need to find employment for their future. It is also known that from time to time players have also been involved on the wrong side of the law with their behavior. Every year we hear reports of players arrested for various reasons. Football is challenging between the hash marks. It may be even more so off the field. Golf could help players better manage their down time.
Let’s face facts, life is about options. The more you have the better off you’ll be. For young men who have breathed football their entire lives it’s easy to understand they only see a life in the game. Every player views themselves as having a long career, no injuries, plenty of cash, record stats, and one day being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Yet there are very few Aaron Rodgers around. As I said prior, the average career of a player is 3+ years. That likely will take most of them from the age of 22 to 25. What do they do after age 25?
My effort would focus on illustrating the benefits this option (golf) could add to their lives. When they find themselves out of football what connections will they have to move on to that next stage? While they’ve been absorbed in their sport, how many influential people have they gotten to know? How many relationships have they developed with business people outside of football? Have their egos even allowed them to consider that the day will come when they will not be on the field? This is where options kick in. Having more than the other guy is key.
Lots of people play golf. Business owners play golf. The golf fraternity is packed with connections (and options). Imagine the potential of meeting new people through golf — people that are able and in many cases willing to help young football players who are no longer in the game. All it takes is a bit of education about golf and more importantly, the conviction to get up from the PlayStation and head out to the golf course.
In addition golf could be a great player activity for teams to interact with one another. I’m not tech savvy but I’m sure each NFL team could afford to purchase a few simulators for their training facilities. Network these devices to one another and you could have a Packers/Bears match up on the simulated short grass. Play matches with other teams week to week and watch the competitive juices flow. You’d eventually see players picking up the game while working towards improvement.
Golf is also the game of a lifetime. What other sport can you play well into your eighties? The benefits of being outside with others helps add to that quality of life we seek as we age. Golf offers so many different opportunities and benefits it would be hard to start listing them here.
Golf Digest recently came out with an article highlighting athletes from various sports who have taken to golf. Do you think when these players leave their respective sports they’ll be able to use golf as a viable option for aiding their future? It’s not what you know, it’s who you know applies to the golf community.
I did manage to meet with the Packers on a few occasions. In the end scheduling became a problem. We were looking to add my presentation to their rookie orientation. Apparently the league added a few other mandatory programs that bumped me. Soon after the Director I met with left his position. As of now the Packers don’t have golf as an option.
At the end of this season I will resubmit my proposal to the Packers. Right now they’re absorbed with a head coaching search. Make no mistake, golf is an option that not only this team can benefit from, but the entire league. That is as solid as a Tiger Woods’ tee shot splitting the uprights from three hundred yards.