Catching Up with Former Player Rep: Colin Cole
We caught up with former NFLPA Player Rep, Colin Cole. We discussed his growth mindset, what skills he learned when he was a Player Rep, and how he has transferred those skills into his role as the NFLPA Charlotte Chapter President today.
What is Colin doing now in his career?
I currently sit as the president of the Charlotte chapter of the NFLPA retired chapters while organizing events for our chapter. Also, I work to connect with other gentlemen within our area, constantly trying to get our guys to come out and be a part of what we have going on which is my main focus right now. Besides that, I have three children which is a big focus of mine as well but since leaving the game of football I have not jumped into another career path. I have been enjoying the retired lifestyle for the most part, while volunteering my time as much as I have been able to.
How did get into the Charlotte Chapter?
I was invited by one of the older gentlemen who is retired within our community chapter. I began to attend the meetings and really saw value in being a part of those meetings and being there on a day-to-day basis which meant a lot to me. I knew a lot from what I was already going through and I knew very well what we all go through as former players and how the transition goes. As a former player, just to have that similar and common factor of being a former player it was only right that I joined the group of gentlemen within our area. Just being a part of an organization that is a group of men is really a tremendous opportunity, the difficulties that we all go through as former players and just to have that community of men has been a tremendous assistance in a transition that we all have to go through. I would say this is one of the most elite fraternities in the world. To have those light conversations and just to be able to talk about situations that other men have experienced just in terms of the camaraderie in the locker room and field is very impressive.
What is your favorite part about your job & why?
My favorite part is just the relationships. When you have a gentleman that gives you a call and wants to take advantage of the benefits that the NFLPA offers us while also being able to give him guidance is an amazing feeling. A lot of the men that are in our chapter have come from an era where we didn’t have a lot of things that we have now. We have taken a lot of steps, leaps, and bounds in terms of the NFLPA and taking the same leaps on what they have been able to do for us as former guys. Just showing the guys that no matter if you played one snap in the NFL or if you just signed a contract and didn’t get the opportunity on the field; that there are still benefits there for you. It feels gratifying to know that you are helping individuals, I will say one of the biggest things that all of us have in common is having a shield we wore while playing. It is the NFL that does a good job of benefiting from our names and likeness’ in various ways to make money. When it comes to us as players having the opportunity to attend luncheons, golf tournaments, and social events in general it is our job to take advantage of those opportunities because you really do not know who you are going to meet or run into. It’s best to take advantage of getting to know those people and leaning into those relationships while doing the best you can to network. Even if you do not know what you want to do post-NFL career, start networking with individuals and just explore what is out there. Again, the NFLPA has some great programs for post-career opportunities, internships, and externships. There is a plethora of things that the union is doing. I really appreciate the fact that I can speak on something that is doing so much for our guys and be able to usher them toward the benefits that they need and are looking for.
What was your transition like from football into your current career?
In terms of my transition, it’s been a great opportunity to really focus on the physical which I have had a couple surgeries I have had to deal with. But the other part is to really enjoy the time with my family. That has been a tremendous upside for this journey of my life in terms of post-career. Also, I went back to school a couple years ago which was a tremendous opportunity, which is not to say that I won’t return. My career now is podcasting, I have done some sideline opportunities including the media. One thing I can say is that I am not in a hurry, I am not really trying to be on EPSN or anything I am just enjoying my life.
Do you have any advice for those currently playing trying to figure out their next career step or debating on retirement?
We all leave the game, none of us are immune to retirement and it is going to happen at some point in our lives. I want to mention that you can’t put all your time and focus into your post-career thoughts because you must focus on your career. However, I would say to discover some of the opportunities the NFLPA has put together for everyone. For example, if you have any interest in going back to school there are opportunities that can help you return to a university. I went back to school myself; I went to broadcast school and only paid a fraction of the cost for me to attend the university. The NFLPA paid for a bulk of that because of its vocational school as opposed to a four-year institution. The biggest thing to take away from this is to understand that it’s going to happen at some point and to best prepare yourself by saving and educating yourself to the best of your ability. If your degree is in something you see yourself moving into, in the off-season take advantage of the opportunity to intern or meeting the owner of 711 and volunteer your time working for him. There are tons of opportunities you just need to talk your player development and they will lead you in the right direction. Specifically, the ones I encountered in Green Bay, Seattle, and Carolina were all tremendous assets for me while trying to figure things out and move forward.
What is the biggest lesson you took away from the game and how did you apply it to your current career now?
Bringing how you begin each and every day. Positive proper routine it is critical for how you view the world and the perspectives you view it from. This is what us as former players have in common is that we must develop a routine to be able to get to the point where we want to be professionals. You must find something new and begin to develop that routine early on. The physical aspects such as weight training are still important to me, but I found other ways such as podcasting which are very important to me as well to position my focus.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had known during your transition that you know now?
Anybody who has lost someone, something that they love in their lifetime knows that there is a mourning process. You must properly let yourself mourn and let it go and figure out what is going to be your motivation as to why you wake up in the morning and live your life.
What has your experience been like as a Player Rep?
The journey for me, as a Player Rep has been fulfilling. I am trusted by the men in our chapter to bring all pertinent knowledge to them, assist in their ongoing transitions, as well as staying up to date on all benefits available to them regardless of if they spent a few months or 20 years in our profession. That is really the best part of what we do, we bring awesome support, opportunities, and knowledge to our guys.
How did being a Player Rep impact you personally and professionally? What is one thing you are the most proud of from being a Player Rep?
Personally, I’d have to say it’s been a driving purpose in my life to work to bring our guys together. We know the difficulties that come with working to continually try to keep our guys involved once their NFL careers are over. I have enjoyed being in contact with my brothers and motivating them to take part in what we’re doing. Professionally, I have been able to develop several relationships that I will continue to lean on to help push our chapter forward.