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Indianapolis’ Matt Overton shares his plan to serve and protect in law enforcement after football

By Jim Gehman, Engagement Insider

Matt Overton has had plans for a career after football since before he had a career in football.

Now in his fourth season as the Indianapolis Colts’ long snapper, Overton hopes to follow his dad’s footsteps when his playing days are over and become a policeman. Tom Overton retired from the San Leandro, California Police Department as a captain in 2010. Since then he has served as a sergeant with the University of California, San Francisco campus police.

“I always had the dream as a little kid growing up to one day be in law enforcement,” said Overton. “Growing up and seeing my dad go through it, my uncle, my step-mother, she was working dispatch for a long time, naturally, just being around that environment, I always gravitated toward that.

“My dad was part of a SWAT team, so it was cool to see how they worked. He was in narcotics for awhile, moved over to vice. He jumped around a lot. But at the end of the day, it was always a team concept. Every day was different, and I kind of liked that approach and also being able to serve the community.

“I always told myself, ‘If I wasn’t lucky enough to be playing football; I would hope to be wearing a badge and being in law enforcement.”

Last offseason, Overton shadowed police officers in San Leandro. While it was something he had done many times before, this time it felt like a new experience.

“I’ve done a ton of ride-alongs when I was younger,” said Overton. “However, it wasn’t really me watching how they work. It was more so just being excited to be in the cop car and driving around and being around the guys. 

“This past offseason, I did two (ride-alongs) with a K-9 unit, and I did another one with a sergeant. And I got goose bumps doing it because I really saw the correlation between what they did and what we do as football players. During their line-up before they start the shift, the sergeant gives kind of like a pregame speech similar to what our coach would say.

“Going out on the street and working together as one, and when they arrive to a scene, just how they work together, I saw the parallels.”

Overton also had the advantage of talking about the parallels between playing football in the NFL and working as a police officer with former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Kenny Shedd, who is now a patrolman in San Leandro.

“He’s a friend of mine,” Overton said. “I’ve known him for quite some time, but I really got to sit down and talk to him and talk about his transition and how he felt about it. How it was so easy.

“I entered the NFL at such an older age, 27 was my rookie year. I understand that my career will be over early to mid-30s. And that’s kind of where some departments cut off their deadline, I guess you can say. I wanted to see if that would be really something that I wanted to dive into at 35. I know football is kind of a young man’s sport; however Kenny kind of shed a light. He was 30 when he entered law enforcement.

“Coming in at that age, still young, but then again he’s coming in with guys who are 18, 19, 20 years old. It was very interesting to see his perspective and how he just intimately loves his career and has the passion just like he had passion for football.”

After speaking in Indianapolis to the Police Explorers, an afterschool development program which gives students an opportunity to learn firsthand about a career in law enforcement, Overton had an idea that the same thing could be experienced by NFL players.  

He, teammate defensive end Kendall Langford and Colts’ Player Engagement Director David Thornton then took it another step and met recently with James Waters, the Assistant Chief of Police for the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.

“We proposed a thing about how we can get involved as players,” said Overton. “I thought that would be something very cool that NFL Player Engagement could implement because of the fact that it’s such a great transition for guys. And it may pique the interest for a lot of guys to see what it’s all about.”

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