Players Participate in NFL Franchising Boot Camp

DrewBreesThe National Football League has announced that 22 current and former NFL players will participate in an NFL Franchising Boot Camp which begins today and continues through April 20. Highlighting the list of names is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and former New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas

From the official NFL release:


Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to serve as keynote speaker 

Twenty-two current and former NFL players – including 2015 Pro Bowlers QB DREW BREES (Saints) and WR DEVIN HESTER (Falcons) – will take part in the NFL Boot Camp: Franchising, which begins tomorrow and continues through April 20. The event will take place at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, named for Miami Dolphins Owner STEPHEN M. ROSS. Three players will also attend with their significant others as part of Player Engagement’s Women’s Engagement Initiative, designed to engage spouses and significant others in the professional development and career transition process.

Over the four days, participants will hear firsthand from franchisees, franchise owners, professors and former players, as well as executives at the International Franchise Association (IFA). Mr. Ross, the chairman, and founder of Related Companies, an international real estate firm, will open the program as the keynote speaker. In addition, former NFL players with franchise ownership experience, including TIM BIAKABATUKA, owner of four Bojangles’ locations, ANGELO CROWELL, owner of five Jersey Mike’s Subs locations, and VAN JAKES,owner of three McDonalds locations, will take part in panel discussions.

“We want to help our players to be successful on and off the field,” said CHARLES WAY, Vice President of NFL Player Engagement. “Offering this Boot Camp and putting our players and their significant others in front of some the most successful people in our NFL family and in the corporate world will hopefully provide them the inspiration needed to achieve their dreams away from the football field.”

Ross School professor of business economics FRANCINE LAFONTAINE, co-author of The Economics of Franchising (Cambridge University Press) and leading academic expert on franchise performance, business creation and survival, serves as faculty director of the program, and joins three other Ross faculty members who will lead program workshops.

“Our faculty have significant experience creating customized learning experiences for executives and organizations,” said MELANIE WEAVER BARNETT, Chief Executive Education Officer at the Ross School of Business. “It is rewarding to work with the NFL’s Player Engagement team to co-create this learning experience for players and their significant others who are considering franchise businesses as they enter their post-playing career.”

NFL Player Engagement worked with the Ross School of Business and consulted with the IFA and the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative (PAFI) to design the program.

“We are thrilled to, once again, help design a program that educates current and former NFL players and their spouses about franchising,” said STEVE CALDEIRA, President & CEO of the International Franchise Association. “Being a part of the franchise industry can be a solid investment in a players’ future, but as with any major decision, it is important that players have the opportunity to do their due diligence before making a decision.”

NFL Boot Camp: Franchising is part of NFL Player Engagement’s Career Development Program, which offers a series of career training programs and internship opportunities for current and former NFL players.

“This seminar is an excellent opportunity for the players to get educated on the ins-and-outs of being a franchise owner,” saidBIAKABATUKA. “Every football player would like a long career but that is not a guarantee. Becoming a franchise owner could be a rewarding venture for a player who is planning for life after football and decides they are committed to learning the business.”

Following are the NFL players participating in NFL Boot Camp Franchising:

Player Current/Former team(s)
Ken Amato Former (TEN)
Ron Bartell Former (STL, OAK, DET)
Drew Brees NO
Nathan Clements Former (BUF, CIN, SF)
Sanders Commings KC
Morgan Cox BAL
Graham Gano CAR
Joshua Gordy Free Agent
Corey Graham Buffalo Bills
Devin Hester ATL
Darren Howard Former (NO, PHI)
J.J. Jansen CAR
Jason Jones DET
Steve Maneri Former (CHI, KC, NE)
Michael Martin TEN
Brad Nortman CAR
Fendi Onobun Free Agent
Darryl Sharpton II Free Agent
Shaun Suisham PIT
Adalius Thomas Former (BAL, NE)
Steven Vallos Former (CLE, DEN, JAX, PHI, SEA)
Van Waiters Former (CLE, MIN)

About NFL Player Engagement

NFL Player Engagement assists players in reaching their highest potential on and off-the-field with guidance, support, and resources provided before, during, and after their NFL experiences. NFL Player Engagement works with three core audiences: Prep, Life, and Next. NFL Life (current players) and NFL Next (former players) reach more than 2,000 NFL players and spouses each year through a variety of programs and services focused on career development, financial and continuing education, as well as personal, psychological, and physical wellness. NFL Prep provides high-school and college student-athletes of all sports with tools to help them succeed in life, focused on awareness, prevention, and education. More information can be found at

About the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Ross is consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management. 

About the International Franchise Association

Celebrating 55 years of excellence, education and advocacy, the International Franchise Association is the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. IFA works through its government relations and public policy, media relations and educational programs to protect, enhance and promote franchising and the more than 780,000 franchise establishments that support nearly 8.9 million direct jobs, $890 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy and 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). IFA members include franchise companies in over 300 different business format categories, individual franchisees and companies that support the industry in marketing, law, technology and business development.

About the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative

PAFI is a bridge that connects the professional athlete community to the franchise community through education, research and interaction. PAFI fulfills its mission by partnering with stakeholders in the professional sports and franchise communities to build education based programming for professional athletes interested in learning about the franchise model and franchisors and suppliers interested in discovering ways to open doors to this niche audience. PAFI was founded by former NFL Player, Michael Stone.

For more information on the boot camp and to get involved please visit the NFL’s player engagement page here.  Good luck to all the participants and a big shoutout to the league for its efforts to create secondary career paths for all players after their football days are done.

Banner image courtesy of NFL Player Engagement

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