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Where Are They Now? – Felix Wright

By Jim Gehman, Engagement Insider,

By Jim Gehman, Engagement Insider

Although you hoped to play in the NFL, you were undrafted coming out of Drake University in 1981. Nevertheless, your degree was put to good use when you became a high school teacher and coach in Joplin, Missouri.

But after one year, why did you decide to take a step back and pursue an opportunity to play pro football?

“Well, I was out practicing one day, just showing the kids what was going on, and the coach said, ‘You should be playing somewhere. You shouldn’t be here.’ And that kind of gave me an idea.”

And that idea was to call an agent who sent you a letter when you graduated the previous year. How’d it go?

“The next day he called and said, ‘I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Which do you want first?’ I said, ‘Give me the bad news.’ And he said, ‘Well, the bad news is I got you two tryouts (with Detroit and Houston).’ I said, ‘Well, what’s the good news?’ And he said, ‘You’re going to have to choose one. They’re both on the same day. But you’ll probably going to want to choose the cheaper one because you have to pay to get there.’

“Houston was closer and so I chose Houston. I went down there and tried out. There were about 600 people. They called out three names and I was the second name picked. They signed me to a contract right there on the spot.

“I had a great training camp, but I was let go after the second preseason game. And as soon as I was let go, I was contacted by the (Canadian Football League’s) Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I had some success through the rest of that season and signed for another two years. Made the all-stars, led the league in interceptions and received an opportunity to try out for NFL teams. Cleveland kind of outbid everybody, and that’s how I ended up in Cleveland.”

You could have done worse than joining the Browns in 1985. After all, the team made the playoffs the next five seasons. What sticks out from your six years as a defensive back with Cleveland? 

“Well, all the AFC Championship Games. I played in three AFC Championship Games – ‘The Fumble,’ ‘The Drive,’ and one was just a game, I guess. They didn’t put a name on that one. [Laughs] Those games are probably the most memorable because they constantly remind us of those games.”

You’ve made your home in suburban Cleveland and have owned a company for 15 years called Sports Trust. What type of a business is it?

“It’s a consulting company. And what I do with NFL and NBA players is if they have issues with their finances, I come in straighten it out, put a plan together and help them execute the plan to where it puts them in position to invest and to not go broke.”

How’d you get into that field?

“I was trying to find an advisor when I played that I could never find. I always had advisors that wanted to invest my money, but there really wasn’t a plan. This is how much you need to put away to be able to achieve this when you step out of the game.

“(Advisors) didn’t have time to really give me the individual attention I needed or most ballplayers need. So I know that the ballplayers need a lot of time to have it explained. It’s not like babysitting, but they do need a lot of attention because they have short careers, they make a lot of money and if they do it right they can truly retire when they get out of the game. And a lot of them don’t because they just don’t have the guidance.”

What’s the smartest thing a client can do with their money?

“I always kind of relate it to… every week your coach gives you a game plan to execute. And if you execute that game plan you have a chance to win that ballgame. So I use the same terminology as far as finances. If you put a plan together for your finances and we execute that plan, you’ve got a chance of not having to work when you get out of the game. Which is always intriguing.”

What makes your career enjoyable?

“I enjoy it because I see success in a particular individual that they don’t have to deal with what 80 percent of the other guys have to go through when they get out of the game. And that’s a lot of stress and disheartening stories.”

Do they normally heed your advice?

“The guys I work with, they’re all in good financial position. And they have to be because I always say, ‘Hey, you’re paying me to do this. If you want to not do right then you can do this on your own.’ I’ve never been fired, so it’s working.”

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