Skip to Content

Five Miami Dolphins see life behind the scenes at the NFL and make valuable business connections

By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider

July, leading up to the opening of training camps, is one of the quietest periods of the year in the NFL. Many players are vacationing or relaxing at home in preparation for the upcoming season. However, on July 11th five Miami Dolphins looking ahead to their futures came to New York to participate in the NFL’s job shadow program at the league office.

Safety Reshad Jones, linebacker James-Michael Johnson, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, defensive end Cameron Wake and offensive tackle Sam Young first attended an NFL employee enrichment forum with a few dozen NFL employees, which featured a panel of presenters comprised of NFL vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions Tracy Perlman and NFL Legends, cornerback Donovin Darius, quarterback Chad Pennington and safety Leonard Wheeler.

Young, a six-year veteran, explained why he decided to take part in the program.

“I’m just looking for opportunities to grow off the field,” he said. “We have all this time in the offseason and I try to take advantage of it. Also to be able to come to the NFL and learn what goes on off the field is something I’ve been curious about and it’s been great to spend some time in the office and get some light shed on that.”

Attendees listened and asked questions as Perlman, Darius, Pennington and Wheeler talked about the relationships between the players and the league and one of the overall missions of the NFL, which is to continually encourage the development of all of its members – players and employees alike.

Following the forum, as part of the NFL’s job shadow program, the Dolphins players were afforded the opportunity to meet with several league executives who spoke to them about their own individual jobs and career trajectories and who offered advice on things players should think about and focus on as they approach the post-NFL phase of their professional lives.

Among those participating were Senior Vice president of Club Business Development Brian Lafemina, Vice President of Partnerships David Lynch, Vice President of Digital Media Vishal Shah, Director of Events Matt Shapiro and Vice President of Sponsorship and Business Development Doug Smoyer. In addition, members of NFL Player Engagement, along with Troy Vincent, the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations a former NFL first-round pick and 15-year NFL veteran, gave their insights and guidance.

The main piece of advice offered by all of those presenting to the players was the importance of building relationships, especially during their playing years. Leveraging their public personas and creating business connections now will help lay a foundation for them when they are ready to transition out of football and into their next careers, which Lafemina pointed out will likely be three or four times longer than their tenures in the NFL.

Wake, heading into his eighth season, didn’t start playing football until he was 17 years old and never expected an NFL career so he is acutely aware that his time in the league is finite. But he draws a parallel between preparing for football and preparing for a post-football career.

“I look at this as the same as getting ready for football,” he said. “You run, you lift, you study; same way you’re not going to jump in and be a CEO or a business owner. You’re going to start from the ground floor and work your way up. A lot of guys, with their pride, they can’t go back to an hourly wage and work their way up to the front office so I feel like this is an opportunity to start now and when the time does come, you’ll be ready – just like Sunday.”


Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for, SportsNet New York’s and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for


comments powered by Disqus