By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
Following the lead of other former NFL players and Florida State alumni Peter Boulware (Baltimore Ravens), Corey Simon (Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans) and Andre Wadsworth (Arizona Cardinals), Kamerion Wimbley began planning for his life after football well before he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
“All three of those gentlemen were successful at some point in their football careers and were able to transition to life after football and still be successful,” Wimbley said. “I watched the way that they did it and followed the blueprint that they put out there before me.
“I had success with that and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to have conversations with those gentlemen to learn things about entrepreneurship and the lessons that they had learned prior to me making it to the place where I’m at now.”
Wimbley began taking steps to reach the place he’s at now while playing linebacker for nine seasons with Cleveland, the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans. He retired in 2015.
“It was very important for me to leave the NFL on my own terms,” Wimbley said. “I think in a lot of cases you’ll see guys who were not ready to leave the game of football and they have a tough time dealing with it afterward. There are some challenges that exist in transitioning from the NFL into civilian life.
“For us in the NFL, a lot of stuff was productivity based. So even when you’re not playing football you still need, well, at least for me, I’m highly competitive, I needed a place where I could compete and let some of that competitive energy out. For me it just happened to be being a business owner.
“(Becoming involved in the business world) was a passion. I had the opportunity to get capital early (in my NFL career) to start some companies. I was not necessarily as involved in the companies as I am now because football takes a lot of time and dedication and focus. But I was able to hire people to help out who were good managers to overlook things. Once I finished playing, I’m involved more in the day-to-day side of it.
“I knew that the lifespan of an NFL player, in terms of their playing years, is very short. They used to tell us we’ve got pretty much an average of a three-year time span. Once you’re done with football, a lot of people don’t know what to do. I wanted to get started early so the foundation would already be there when I was done and I didn’t have to try to build everything from the ground up. It would already exist and so I could basically just walk right into it and get started.”
A capital investor, through KW Growth Holdings LLC, Wimbley has successfully built over a dozen businesses. They include Wings and Things, a restaurant in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, Twice as Nice Barbershops, also in Wichita and the Bull Breed Coalition Registry, a company founded to provide a network of support, education and pedigree documentation for Bully Breeds. It also books international dog shows, weight-pulling events, etc.
“I try not to micromanage. Normally people within the companies, they’ll come to me if there is an issue that they can’t handle themselves,” Wimbley said. “A lot of my time is spent finding the influences within the fields that I do business in and finding ways for us to do business together.
“So it’s a lot of networking. I research a lot, trying to study people. That’s one thing that really takes up a lot of my time, studying the detailed work in the stuff that I do so I can be knowledgeable when I approach certain people to see if it’s feasible for us to do business together, to grow this company and grow the brand that I have.
“A lot of the things that I’ve seen or been able to experience through the NFL, I’ve implemented into my businesses. And you’ll see that other companies starting repeating what you’re doing. It’s funny that a lot of my competitors, the people that I recruit will say, ‘We study your company through stuff that you post on Facebook.’ It’s pretty awesome.”
Aside from his businesses, Wimbley founded the Kamerion Wimbley Foundation. It focuses on developing character, literacy and general well-being of the youth and young adults in Wichita.
And since retiring from the NFL, Wimbley has also found much more time to spend with his wife, Monica, and their daughters, Meghan, Maliah and Mykah.
“I get the opportunity to go to school and have lunch with my daughters, take trips with my daughters. Those experiences with the kids to me are awesome,” Wimbley said. “And having the opportunity to grow these businesses and companies to open up more opportunities for them when they’re older, that makes my days really enjoyable. So I’d say that the best part about being Kamerion Wimbley right now is that I get to do the things that I love and I get to do them pretty much daily.”