Catching Up With Former Player Rep: Greg Camarillo
Former NFL wide receiver, Greg Camarillo, spent 8 seasons with the Chargers, Dolphins, Vikings, and Saints. He played his collegiate career at Stanford University and declared as a free agent in 2005 before signing with the San Diego Chargers. Camarillo had over 1,700 receiving yards and played in 80 games during his time in the league. We caught up with Greg and he gave us insight into his life during and after football.
What is your proudest moment as a Player Rep?
My proudest moment as a Player Rep was when we were able to end the lockout and get back to practice, and then back onto the field. Your teammates put a lot of trust in you to be their Player Rep and to work with the NFLPA as you represent all football players. Being able to finally get past that impasse and back on to the field was such a great feeling for not only me but also for my teammates and it was an overall success for the Union.
What was your experience like as a Player Rep?
My experience as a Player Rep was very positive because I felt empowered and trusted. Knowing that my teammates trusted me to get information and bring it back to them, but also take what they wanted to say to the Union made me feel empowered and the NFLPA gave us all the tools to make sure we were doing a good job with it too.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your experience in the league and how do you apply it to your life now?
The biggest lesson I learned from my time in the league is just preparation. You are going to take that lesson to any career you have. When you prepare to be a football player you have to be in the weight room in the offseason, you have to study your playbook, you have to get to know your teammates, and that is the same thing that works in any career. If you're willing to put in that work beforehand, you will get the results you want. So that preparation, which was key for football, can also be key in a lot of careers.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had known before transitioning into life after football?
The one thing I always disliked was people saying ‘Greg, you're a smart guy, it's going to work out fine for you’ and I hated hearing that. I always thought ‘How do you know that it's going to work out fine for me?’ Granted that is supposed to be a confidence boost and helpful, but I didn't like that. I knew I would never go to another guy and be like, ‘Hey man, it's going to be okay’, I am going to take them step by step. I’d tell them to take advantage of the skills that allowed them to be a good football player because these skills are going to allow them to also be good at something else. It is scary knowing you’ve reached the pinnacle of one career and starting all over with another one. Use those same resources and building blocks, and attack the next career, just like you attacked the first one.
What's one piece of advice would you give guys who are about to transition out of the league?
My one piece of advice would be to stay connected. Stay connected with your teammates, stay connected with the union, stay connected with the league, the media, and anyone who has helped you during your football career. They all want to help you after your football career and there are a lot of folks that want to see you do well, so stay connected.
What milestones have you hit in your current career that you are most proud of?
I currently work with student-athletes at both the high school level through a nonprofit and at the college level through academic mentoring. It's not so much about hitting my individual milestones as it is about helping my students hit their milestones and getting to be part of their success. And so, I feel like I'm hitting the milestone now that I'm able to be on the other side of things and help future student-athletes and current student-athletes achieve success for themselves.
What characteristics from the game do you apply to everyday life?
I see a lot of the same characteristics that allowed me to be successful at football with my current student-athletes. I tell the kids daily that it's all about attitude and effort. You're never going to be the absolute best athlete, you're never going to be the smartest kid in the room, but if you show up with a good attitude and you show up with good effort and if you're willing to work hard, it will end up being okay.
How do you create a team environment in your day-to-day life?
The one thing that I miss most about athletics is being part of a team. I tried to chase after that even after my NFL career was over. I worked for a college athletics department, which naturally had a team environment, but I tried to get to do things in groups and try to create that camaraderie. That same type of team atmosphere has led me to run a nonprofit program for high school student-athletes. We do team building exercises trying to recreate that joy of being part of a team, that joy of a team working towards a greater goal. That's something I missed when football was over and something I tried to recreate in my everyday life.