Lorenzo Alexander wasn't sure he would last this long in the NFL. More importantly, the Redskins linebacker, entering his eighth season in the league, knows at some point it will end. That's why in the past three offseasons he has attended NFL-sponsored programs at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management.
"Guys in my position are a little more proactive as far as trying to find things like internships or workshops," said Alexander, who operates the Studio -- Mind.Body.Soul in Ashburn with Redskins teammate Kedric Golston. "You have to get your feet wet and provide some direction so when you're done you won't waste time and money trying to figure it out."
One agency, Priority Sports & Entertainment, increased its efforts to help with a post-playing career four years ago. It invited clients as well as business leaders and others to attend a seminar focusing on real-world advice and hoping to develop mentorships. For example, one person who bought real estate told stories of having to deal with phone calls from renters and fix broken toilets.
"If you start this process now," said Priority Sports' Rick Smith, in his 25th year as an agent, "hopefully they ease the transition out of football as opposed to being done and they have no idea what's going on and that's when they battle depression and alcoholism. I've seen a guy go through a hundred million dollars. Someone tells them a story, and they just write a check. We're trying to get players to think like [a businessman]."
Ex-Redskins defensive back Troy Vincent, now the NFL's vice president of Player Engagement, estimates 25 percent of current players have taken advantage of NFL-sponsored programs, from boot camps in broadcasting and music to free financial education workshops and free schooling.
"Don't give me the excuse you don't have time," Vincent said. "The professional athlete has more time than anybody else. What you are doing with that time is a different question."