Catching Up with Former Player Rep: Drew Butler
We sat down with former NFLPA Player Rep, Drew Butler. We talked about his time as a Player Rep, what it meant to be a leader for his team, and his current career. Drew was a Player Rep when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
What is your current career?
I am the Executive Vice President at Icon Source, running their college division. We are an on-demand marketplace software that connects brands with athletes to facilitate endorsement deals. Think of us as the Salesforce of sports marketing. At the professional level, we have over 2,000 professional athletes. We work with agencies such as CAA, IMG, and Wasserman. On July 1, student-athletes will be allowed to be compensated with their name, image, and likeness (NIL), so my job is to allow all brands, whether it be local or national, to have the platform to activate this new NIL market. We want to have engaging conversations with student-athletes, and facilitate endorsement deals on a secure and transparent platform. It’s very exciting.
Can you describe your experience leaving the game?
That’s a great question and I think it’s an important one for everyone to understand, especially when you are considering walking away. You want to figure out what you like to do outside of football. I still love football; I love sports in general. I am on a podcast with Aaron Murray called, “The Punt & Pass Podcast” and we stay connected with the game. During my last couple of years in the league, I knew I needed to create a resume. I started working for a company called UGAsports.com, and I started writing for the publisher. I think it’s important for the guys in the league to take advantage of the offseason and the weeks before training camp. It’s not easy figuring out what is next, and it sometimes takes a while to get going. When you are done playing football, you are a “former NFL football player,” and that is a tough reality, but you have to embrace it. Figure out something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing. Once you find it, it’s all worth it.
What moment were you most proud of when you were a Player Rep?
The moment for me was essentially being voted a Player Rep. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Arizona Cardinals for 3 ½ years, and we had tons of amazing veterans on that football team. Guys like Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, and Rashad Johnson, are teammates who I still talk to and go to for advice. They really helped me when I was a younger pro. When I was going in my third year with the Cardinals, they approached me and said, “hey this is something you should look into, lets see if you can get voted on to be a Player Rep”, and I was. That was a big moment for me, and I took that to heart.
How have you used the skills you learned as a Player Rep in your career today?
I think listening. When you’re in those Player Rep meetings, there are a lot of ideas being thrown around. The NFLPA does a great job in making sure that the communication is key, the messages are streamlined, and the leadership is fantastic. Learning to understand the importance of listening, diversity, and thought, has been a huge help for me.
Looking back on your career, is there any advice you would give your younger self?
One of the best pieces of advice I have received is, “it is never as good as you think it is, and it is never as bad as you think it is.” It’s easy to get sucked into social media, it’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re not performing your best, it’s easy to be down when your team is on a losing streak, and it’s very easy to think that you are the absolute best, and you are performing at a very high level. When you look across the board at the guys who have had long-term careers, and perform at a very high level, they are extremely consistent. They are professionals for a reason. Their neutral mindset allows them to understand, “hey I’m going to do what I can do best. I am not going to focus on the negative things that people are saying, and I am going to focus on what I can control.” It all goes back to one- persistence, two- grit, and three- the overall understanding that it is never as good as you think it is, but also, it is never as bad as you think it is.
Have you taken advantage of any of the services that the PA has to offer?
Yes, I did the Trust weekend, which was fantastic. I also did the NFLPA Mpower conference in Washington, D.C. I have also stayed connected with the local chapter here. NFL players are extremely smart and driven, and the more that you can be around guys like that is fantastic.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love to play golf. I have been golfing my entire life, absolutely love it and I do it as much as I can. My wife Jacqui and I have two daughters: Bridget and Cara. We love being around family. Being in the Atlanta area allows us to be around my parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, we just love hanging out with family and being with our girls.
Any final thoughts?
Yes, take advantage of the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA has an amazing resource full of former players. If you get invited to an event or have an opportunity to take advantage of a resource that the NFLPA slides into your email inbox, take time to look at it. I really appreciate the outreach from you guys. I made a point to take advantage of that and get involved in any way that I can. It has been a huge help and I look forward to continuing to do so.