Q: WHAT THOUGHTS WERE GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN CONTEMPLATING RETIREMENT?
I had just finished a season with Miami and our daughter was going to be born about two weeks later. On the day she came, January 14th, 2019, I didn't have any thoughts whatsoever about retiring — in fact, I was looking forward to free agency. But I remember seeing her and it was something in me — I don't really know how to explain it. I didn't know if it was God, but something said, “You need to retire, and you need to stop.”
"I don't really know how to explain it. I didn't know if it was God, but something said, 'You need to retire, and you need to stop.'"
That was a very defining moment for me, one that I think a lot of people have when they have children, especially their first. A lot of my priorities and my outlook on life changed the moment she got here.
My wife was still in the hospital bed and I told her, “I think I need to stop playing.” And she responded, “Why don't we wait until we get out of the hospital!” We took a few months to talk about it and think about every different scenario that could play out, and everything kept pulling me towards retirement. A lot of that is due to what I'm doing now.
My planning gave me the option to walk away, which is probably the most valuable thing any player should know. It doesn't matter how many contracts you get, how big those contracts are or anything like that. If you have the ability to set yourself up to where you can walk away on your own terms, including from a financial standpoint, and be perfectly fine — not only for you, but for generations within your family — that is what guys need to try to strive for.
"If you have the ability to set yourself up to where you can walk away on your own terms, including from a financial standpoint, and be perfectly fine — not only for you, but for generations within your family — that is what guys need to try to strive for."
Q: What did you do with your free time immediately after retiring?
We were still down in Florida, and it was this situation where we didn't know where we were going to go or what we were going do. This was the first time that we didn't really have any direction, which brings on a lot of mixed emotions. There's a lot of excitement and a lot of anxiety. Where are we going to call home? Where are we going to put down long-term roots? You aren’t able to talk about that when you're in the NFL.
We spent some time down in Florida because my newborn daughter, Kendyl, had to reach a certain age until she could travel. We kept weighing out a lot of different options. I was very grateful to be able to be around for my daughter's first year of life. But eventually, we packed everything up and moved back to Arkansas. I went to school there, that's where my wife and I met, and my family had moved up there from Houston.
That first year I had a lot of different emotions going on, and I think I handled it pretty well. There's no right or wrong — everyone goes through it in their own way.
Q: What brought you to the Trust in the first place and what were you hoping to get out of it?
I knew about The Trust and the Wraparound Program because I had always tried to have a full understanding of what I was eligible for. I wanted to do a Wraparound visit to see if there might be something I didn't know about.
For me, it was just a reassurance and a knowledge-check. It turned out there were things that I didn’t know. The overall structure and the nuances of the benefits are what I got educated on during my Wraparound.
Q: What would you tell another former player about Wraparound and why would you encourage them to go?
They cover everything. If you are at that point in your life where you're transitioning from something that you have put your entire life into, into a real world that is unknown to a lot of professional athletes — (The Wraparound) helps you make sure your ducks are in a row. There's no downside whatsoever to going and doing it. If anything, you're just being proactive.
Q: What have you done with your life since retiring? Where are you now?