By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider
Among the many resources provided to NFL players are the Directors of Player Engagement. Each team has one individual in the role, often a former player, and they help guide and inspire players to take advantage of the many NFL resources. Current players and former players now have a litany of continuing education programs they can take advantage of to help lay a foundation for themselves in potential post-NFL careers, from MBA certifications to journalism boot camps and the DPEs are often instrumental in connecting players to the programs that resonate with them.
The program currently underway is the 2016 NFL Sports Journalism and Radio Boot Camp hosted at Bowling Green State University. Among the younger attendees was two-year veteran T.J. Carrie, a starting defensive back with the Oakland Raiders. Energetic and highly productive on the field, Carrie is taking that same energy to begin to educate himself and lay a foundation for the career he may follow when his playing days are done.
Critical to navigating the opportunities has been Carrie’s Director of Player Engagement, Lamonte Winston, who has provided Carrie with the choices and options available to him.
“The Player Engagement piece really controls the ‘don’t know’ of the ‘don’t know,’” Carrie said. “Especially as young player, you don’t really know what you’re supposed to do in your free time and in the offseason. The DPE is vital in giving you that information.”
Vince Agnew, who played briefly in the NFL and CFL, now at age 28, has officially decided to move on from football and is utilizing the NFL’s resources to start to create his future path. Originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Agnew has maintained a relationship with the Dolphins DPE, Kaleb Thornhill. A journalism major at Central Michigan University, Agnew has long had an interest in writing and reporting so the journalism boot camp was something he jumped at immediately.
“I’ve stayed in contact with Kaleb and he’s always sending me information,” Agnew said. “He keeps me in the know. He helped me with my continuing education classes. Now I’m ready to embark on something new and in college, I initially thought I’d like to be a reporter, on the sidelines, cover the locker room, taking photos. This program has been great; it’s been good to get back into focusing on writing.”
The 2016 SJRBC was particularly intriguing to Carrie because he describes himself as being opinionated, yet open-minded, always looking for new information to gather and share. For Carrie, seeing the variety of opportunities and participating in this boot camp has turned on a light bulb.
“I’m finding out a lot of vital information,” Carrie said. “You have to be the main controller of what you want to do. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. You have to take advantage of everything you can.”
Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for CBSSports.com, SportsNet New York’s TheJetsBlog.com and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for NFL.com.