Transition Advice for Athletes by Former NFL Player Nick Murphy

Transitioning from sports to business is about more than finding another job. For your whole life (or at least all that you can remember) you’ve been consumed by a passion to compete in a sport. While there are intramural leagues and co-ed softball tournaments aplenty, nothing will ever replace competition at a high level. The crowds, the noise, and the energy—they’re all irreplaceable.
What isn’t irreplaceable is the passion for which you approached your sport. Will anything be the same playing on a NFL field on a Sunday in December? No, of course not. But once you’ve come to terms with this fact, your transition into the business world—the “real world”—will be so much easier.
We’ve all had friends and teammates that we have watched hang on to the dream for too long. Don’t let that be you! That’s not to say that you should quit at the first sign of adversity, but when the writing is on the wall and the opportunity costs of continuing to pursue a career as an athlete become too high, it’s time to step back and be objective.
So, how do you choose that second career and become passionate about it? Isn’t that the million dollar question…? Here are my top five action items to overcoming this dilemma.
  • Don’t go it alone. There are services out there that exist solely to help athletes cope with transition.
  • Take stock of your support systems. If your spouse or family doesn’t support you during this time in your life, you need to address it because it’s imperative to feel supported.
  • Plan ahead. How much money do you need to earn? What do you want your work day to look like? Can you handle a boss? What jobs have you always been interested in?
  • Create a strategic career plan. It’s one thing to want something, it’s quite another to have a plan on how to get there.
  • Be realistic. You likely won’t earn six figures in year one. That’s OK. You can get there if you choose the right career path.
If this all sounds daunting, don’t worry. There are places you can turn. Seeking out your local chapter of retired players, finding a business mentor, and reaching out to your alma mater can all help you find the network and support you’ll lean on during your transition.
If you need additional assistance, check out a non-profit called the Executive Athlete Foundation. Their free service begins with a career assessment and includes accelerated business training, mentorship support, and internship/career placement assistance. 
Nick Murphy is a former NFL punter. During his NFL career, Murphy spent time on the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. He also played in NFL Europe, where he was named an all-league selection in consecutive seasons. After last playing in 2005, Murphy earned his MBA from Arizona State University and currently works with professional athletes, assisting them in their transition into the business world.