More Than Football: Coolest NFL Side Hustles
From July to February, it’s all gridiron, all the time for NFL players.
But that leaves more than half the year away from the field. And while recovering from the season and training for the next one can take much of their time, some players take the off-season to pursue their other passions and professions. They may not need their side-hustles to pay the bills, but these players show how almost everyone can benefit from new avenues for personal and professional growth.
Defensive end Chad Thomas just finished his rookie season in the NFL, but in the offseason he sings a different song.
Thomas, who plays nine instruments, studied at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He’s also an accomplished hip-hop producer under the name Major Nine, The Washington Post reports.
When he played in high school, a teammate’s mother knew rapper and CEO Rick Ross and set up a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant. That led to Thomas producing Ross’s track, Apple of My Eye.
The Judicial Intern
In 2017, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix worked as a judicial intern in Green Bay’s Brown County Court. Clinton-Dix, who left school early to enter the NFL Draft, needed an internship to finish his degree in criminal justice. He also wanted a better understanding of our country’s legal system.
“Growing up where I’m from, some people are afraid of cops,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. “What a lot of people don’t realize is, they’re really not the bad guys. They’re really on our side, they’re really trying to help us out. And sometimes, we don’t understand that.”
After the successful internship, Clinton-Dix graduated from the University of Alabama in 2018 with a criminal justice degree, according to Al.com.
The Board-Game Inventor
NFL training camps can be dull, with a lot of sitting around. Punter Tress Way used his downtime to create a board game.
What’s Your Bid?, a combination of Trivial Pursuit, Family Feud and spades, offers more than 500 questions about sports and entertainment, food and science, animals, world history and statistics. ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown” featured the game, which sold out its initial run within minutes.
Way told ESPN he developed the game after quizzing teammates on their college football knowledge. On road trips, he jotted down anything that inspired him, from the colors of street signs to different brands of soda.
For nearly five years, cornerback Joe Haden has curated a vintage collection of footwear in his Cleveland store, The Restock. Haden, a massive sneakerhead, wanted to offer options to customers who couldn’t afford the latest shoes on the market.
Because The Restock is a consignment store, Haden can sell products that are harder to find. Thanks to his football connections, he’s got a wide net to cast for new pieces for his store’s collection.
The National Guard Member
After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 2010, offensive lineman Ben Garland faced a decision: football or the military. He chose both.
He protects his quarterback, and helps protect his country as a member of the National Guard. ESPN reports he spends offseason time with the Air National Guard 140th Security Forces Squadron. His current duties center around public affairs, though he spent two years in active duty as a second lieutenant upon graduation. Garland even fulfilled a childhood dream — flying fighter jets.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo retired this offseason. His retirement plan has two big priorities: his kids and Gigi’s Cupcakes, an Austin shop he opened in March 2018 with former NFL player Michael Griffin.
The two first chatted cupcakes while teammates in Tennessee. And while CBS Austin notes the initial reaction was, “man, you guys ain’t serious,” Orakpo and Griffin have run their business with the same precision and teamwork they once demonstrated in the huddle.
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