From The Gridiron To The E-Suite

NFL mascots might have a better IRA than the players.

NFL mascots might have a better IRA than the players.

The phrase Live fast, die young might have been invented to describe an NFL player’s on-field time.

According to the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the average NFL career is just over three years.  ESPN tackled NFL player financial management (or lack thereof) more than two years ago. This past January, quarterback Vince Young filed for bankruptcy. Young doesn’t seem like an anomaly. Since 2009, it has been estimated that anywhere from 78% to 90% of NFL players have filed for bankruptcy or experienced other financial issues at some point in retirement.

In an ongoing effort to mitigate these issues, the NFLPA announced last week it has teamed up with Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business to offer an MBA program designed for NFL players.


George Washington University had a similar program a few years ago but has shifted from a  focus on just NFL players. The NFLPA searched for a way to make a customized program conducive to the schedules of their players. Enter one of the top online and residential business programs in the country, Kelley School of Business. Kelley has the means and diversity of staff to offer a very flexible and customized program.

The beauty of the program is if accepted into it, former and current players can make it whatever they want. If a degree and required courses are already possessed, the players can jump right in and have an MBA in as short as two and a half years with online and face-to-face instruction. If players still need to complete a degree or other courses, they can do it once accepted into the program. If players want to just take a course or two on financial management or get a certificate in a specialized field of business, that is OK, too.

“We have a faculty that is very open to learning and teaching with flexibility and customization,” says Idalene Kesner, dean of Kelley. “We already offer many hybrid programs where students come here and then go online.”

When a player enters the program, he will be treated like any other MBA student.

“This is an MBA program,” says Ash Soni, executive associate dean at Kelley. “We are not charging anything more or less and will not treat them any differently than normal students. They are getting the real deal.”

In addition to the program, players can take part in the Me, Inc. program, Kelley Capstone Experience and Global immersion courses. Me, Inc. instructs students on how to connect personal brand and past experiences with future goals. The capstone program puts students in teams and into real-world business problems. The Global program places students in businesses around the world.


George Atallah, a spokesperson from the NFLPA said modern day players do leave the league with money in the bank and opportunities but they also want to provide players with as much help as possible.

The NFLPA offers tuition reimbursement programs players can qualify for contingent on acceptable grades. Atallah acknowledged choosing Kelley was an easy decision because of its reputation as a top program but also the ability of Kelley to make this NFL-tailored.

“When I received my MBA, I had to take multiple courses at different places even though I already had a degree,” says Atallah. “The players also have to meet certain standards to qualify but they can meet all of those standards through Kelley.”

Kesner and Soni said they already had four players signed up before the announcement. In an initial meeting, one player signed up before leaving the room.

“We pride ourselves on having a versatile and dynamic faculty,” says Kesner. “This program makes sense for us.”


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