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IN HIS OWN WORDS: TRAVIS SWANSON A Q&A ON RETIREMENT & LIFE AFTER THE GAME

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?

Outside of raising a little hurricane as a daughter, we’re back in the Northwest Arkansas area, which is very developed and up-and-coming. It’s a place I fell in love with, and is why I obviously wanted to go to school here.

I joined the company who essentially did my financial planning all throughout my NFL years and even college years — Athletes Advantage Financial. The guy who had always done our financials told me for years that he wanted me to come join as soon as I got done playing.

I've been a part of the process from A to Z and have seen a lot of people’s financial situations, especially former teammates and friends. Whether they're using a group of people or one person, a lot of what we do is help clients understand the ins-and-outs of their benefits and how to utilize them from a tax standpoint, which is important because a majority of our clientele are professional athletes.

Athletes Advantage Financial is essentially a one-stop shop, while most other similar organizations are not. You might have one person that specializes in investments, another person who tries to talk to you about your retirement, another that talks to you about certain insurances — but what we are is an accumulation of all of that. We essentially show them how their life going to look down the road when they're 60, 65 or 70, and offer a lot of different avenues and vehicles that can help them get to where they want to go.

This is important because guys, especially those in the NFL, have such a huge opportunity. It’s an opportunity that stems outside the football field because you're at such a young age, if you can structure what you have and what will be given to you the right way, you can positively impact your family, your kids and even their kids. It’s a multi-generational ripple effect that we help guys achieve.

The biggest reason I got into this is because I want to give guys that same option that I had. Every locker room that I was in, I had teammates that I knew were continuing to play just because of the money. I had teammates that stuck in the game for two, three, or even four years longer than they wanted to, because they had to. To me, that’s just not how it should be at all. You need to be put in the position where if you want to walk away, you can walk away.

"I had teammates that stuck in the game for two, three, or even four years longer than they wanted to, because they had to. To me, that’s just not how it should be at all. You need to be put in the position where if you want to walk away, you can walk away."

Q: What are some of the common issues that you see former and active players make when it comes to financials?

It’s almost like you don’t know what you don’t know. And it's very unfortunate that a lot of guys are in this scenario because that is not necessarily in the athlete’s best interest. I think now more than ever, everyone (even people outside of athletics) need to do a self-checklist of who you have in your corner. Whether that's a person or a group, you need to reevaluate who they are and what your current situation is, because this pandemic is a very historic moment right now in the world.

Q: Tell US about AlphaLit?

AlphaLit is my wife's company. To make a long story short, the company itself is a marquee letter rental company that started in Dallas from some very close friends of ours. They started in Dallas, and we were the second location that opened up. It timed up perfectly, because I had told my wife Emily when we were back in Florida, “Listen, I had my thing for five years. And you sacrificed a lot of moving and the career you wanted. So now, it’s your turn. Whatever you want to do now, let’s go do it.”

She opened (an AlphaLit) up in the Northwest Arkansas area, and it has completely taken off. She does these big marquee letters and a number of rentals every day. From weddings, birthdays to corporate events — you name it, she does it. That's been her thing, and I've been proud of her with just how she's taken this and become a businesswoman with no business background whatsoever.