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OMAR GAITHER A CAPTAIN SPOTLIGHT

Omar Gaither is a former linebacker who played 8 seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.

He is one of nine captains that assist The Trust with impacting the lives of former NFL players as they transition out of the league. He currently lives in Charlotte, NC with his family.

What was your transition like when retiring from the league?

My transition, in my humble opinion, was rather small. That’s mainly because I already had an idea of what I wanted to do when I finished.

I think the most important part about having a smooth transition is being engaged. Whether it's with the NFLPA or the NFL, or whatever it is you want to do when you finish, in the offseason. I was always taking courses at Kellogg, and taking advantage of all those programs. I did an internship with the NFLPA, and so on. So I was able to create contacts and a network that allowed me to have a smooth transition.

"I was able to create contacts and a network that allowed me to have a smooth transition."

What is the most important factor in a successful transition?

Getting out of the denial stage, and moving on as fast as possible. Having a plan and taking care of your money while you’re still playing. I think thats the biggest reason why most guys hold on past their time in the league – it's mainly due to financial concerns.

What Advice would you give a recently transitioned player?

This isn’t break time. This is when you have to work even harder than you've probably worked in your entire life – Not from a physical, but from a mental standpoint.

You’re not 65 and retired, you are 30 and starting your life outside of football. You’re not a football player anymore, you’re a "regular" guy trying to figure your plans out. You're trying to own a business or go into corporate america, etc., and be successful. And you have to realize that you have to start at the bottom of the totem pole.

"This isn't break time. This is when you have to work harder than you've probably worked in your entire life. Not from a physical, but from a mental standpoint."

What does your Post-NFL career consist of, aside from being a trust captain?

The biggest thing I do right now is my real estate. I was buying and holding real estate while I was still playing. So that was the plan, and I tried to set it in motion as much as I could while still in the league.

Doing real estate is a direct result of me attending classes and programs in the offseason. They gave me an idea of what I wanted to do when I was finished.

I also do radio here in Charlotte, as well as various camps and appearances.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A TRUST CAPTAIN?

When I was playing, I considered myself to be a player-coach. It was just a natural transition for me. Every team has those veterans that go out of their way to make sure the rookies are sane – I was that kind of guy on whatever team I went to.

You always know the guys in the locker room that are mature and have their head on straight with a solid foundation. I always wanted to help teammates while I was playing, and I wanted to do the same thing when I finished.

So, this was the perfect opportunity that allowed me to do that without coaching. When you coach, you help guys, yeah, but most guys are only going to play two or three years. And I get to potentially help them for the rest of their lives, so that’s more of a lasting impact in my opinion.

"But most guys are only going to play two or three years. And I get to help them for the rest of their lives, so that’s more of a lasting impact in my opinion."

Describe what goes on at a Captain’s Event.

The biggest thing about a Captain’s Event is just getting around guys.

Its a family reunion, that’s the best way I can describe it. When you go to a family reunion, you might not know that second cousin on your mom’s side from Connecticut, but you have a common bond because you’re all family and have had many of the same experiences. You see guys and bump into people who you haven’t seen in 10-15 years, and it’s all smiles and hugs. And that’s really a great feeling.

"You see guys and bump into people who you haven’t seen in 10-15 years, and it’s all smiles and hugs. And that’s really a great feeling."

Why should a former player attend a captains event?

It gives you a chance to get out of the house and get engaged with guys who you may have played with, or you know the same coach, etc.

And to be 100% honest, it’s free! You get to go out and have a good time, eat good, bring your spouse, it’s the best of all worlds.

What's so important about the football brotherhood and staying in touch with other players?

I think that it's about keeping you mentally stable. When guys retire – I don’t care if you’re Tom Brady or someone who played a year and a half – there will be some level of depression. For some, that means they just work out more and they become even more physically fit. Other guys just sit around and do nothing. There is no way to deny that you’ve been doing something your entire life, you can't just stop that and there’s no mental anguish that’s involved.

"There is no way to deny that you’ve been doing something your entire life, you can't just stop that and there’s no mental anguish that’s involved."

What staying engaged and being involved with guys does is, it lets you know you aren’t by yourself. I think that’s the biggest thing. Guys think that they are going through something that nobody else has gone through, because "they aren’t me." They think nobody has their unique situation.

Secondly, it's about being engaged – the football arena is its own networking arena in itself. There are so many guys doing so many great things and who know so many people. Just by staying engaged and staying in touch, it allows you to take advantage of some opportunities that wouldn’t be there if you just sat at home doing your own thing.

What was the proudest moment in your NFL career?

This may sound a little weird, but it goes along with the type of person I am.

I was in Philly and I wasn’t going to sign a new deal with them, and they had brought in some young guys. So when they know they aren’t going to sign you, they kind of push you to the side and let the young guys play. One of the proudest moments for me was not only being able to accept that, but trying to help the guys and the team still be successful and not resting on my laurels and pouting.

I could have easily decided not to help, knowing that those guys were going to make a lot more mistakes without my tutelage, and that would give me more of an opportunity to get back in the starting lineup. But I was proud that I was able to keep my chin up and work through that and not be sour because of it – not letting that event in my life steal my joy. I always told myself I would work hard regardless and wouldn't let the situation dictate my emotions and the way I feel.

Every day is a great day that I am blessed to have. But you don’t have to worry about that until it’s tested. That's a big moment for a starter, when you aren’t starting anymore. But I was able to still be who I am and be helpful, and that made me feel good about myself.

Since leaving the NFL, what’s been your proudest moment?

Getting married and having kids. I had my first kid in my second-to-last season, and it’s funny how life works with the timing of it. Would I have liked to play more years? Yes, but the fact that I am able to spend time with my kids, go to the water park during the day, take them to school, lunches, etc. I’m thankful for those opportunities, and I wouldn’t have many of those if I was still playing. I’d have a lot less time. So I’m proud of the fact that I am able to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids and not have that be interrupted by football. Life is all about timing.

"I’m proud of the fact that I am able to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids and not have that be interrupted by football. Life is all about timing."

Knowing what you know now, what should a transitioning player do first?

The easiest thing a guy can do when he’s transitioning is to get engaged and get involved. Sign up for whatever groups or player chapters or anything it is you can be involved with. The easiest thing you can do is to attend those events because it will make a difference more than you know. Emotional, physical, you’ll want to stay in shape because you’ll be seeing guys.

The captains are a prime example of that. All of our captains are in pretty good shape, and I can’t help but think that’s because we know that the moment that someone slips up, you’re going to be held accountable.

Just stay involved.

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