Catching Up with Former Reps: Rich Ohrnberger
Former NFL offensive guard Rich Ohrnberger spent 6 seasons with the Patriots, Cardinals, and Chargers. He played his collegiate career at Penn State, where he was a part of the Nittany Lions Big Ten Championship team in 2008 and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection. We caught up with Rich and he gave us insight into his life during and after football. ?
What is your current career?
I am currently a radio show host. I host a sports talk radio show in San Diego five days a week, and I host a national radio show on the weekends. There was always an interest in broadcasting, because throughout my career, being interviewed by print and on-camera media and radio, every time I was interviewed I was asked if I had interest in it. Sometimes that would be as far as the question would go, and sometimes there would be a follow-up of, "because I think you'd be great at it." It was very similar to how I got involved with football, by hearing people say, "you should play football," because I was a bigger guy playing lacrosse and I was athletic. It was a very similar path with broadcasting. You just hear it so often and you decide to give it a shot. I decided to start doing some analyst work on the local NBC affiliate in San Diego, and also doing on-air analyst work with XTRA 1360, which is the local station that I host this show on. Sure enough, I was offered a position as a full-time host within about six months of working as an analyst. It all sort of fell into place.
How would you describe your experience leaving the game?
It was relatively smooth, considering I had zero experience in front of a camera or behind a microphone, and really was cobbling together a resume after my football career ended. After my playing career, I just started to throw myself into this new career very similarly to how I approached football. Every opportunity I got, I looked at it as practice, whether that was being called the day-of, being asked to drive two and a half hours to do a five-minute spot on-air, the answer was always yes. I just felt like the opportunity practice was so worthwhile, and any chance I could get in the studio I would take. This all went relatively smoothly. I realize it's not always that smooth for people who are chasing down their next career choice, but it just fell into place.
What are you most proud of during your time as a player rep?
I had limited opportunity to be a rep in the union, and it's actually one of those things that I wish my career lasted longer so I could stay more engaged with the union. It really was one of my greatest achievements, having my teammates vote me as a representative. Due to my time served in the NFL, and because once you get six years into your career you've been around longer than most guys in the locker room, it was nice to be trusted with that responsibility. The one year that I was a representative, I really appreciated witnessing in person the democracy that we've grown. It's the idea that every player has a voice. As a representative, you're representing your locker room and doing the bidding of the players you speak with on a daily basis. You're bringing those complaints, grievances, or suggestions to the executive committee and to the board of directors, and it's great to see the democratic process in action, because it really does work. Great things have come of those meetings, and I hope they continue to.
How has being a player rep impacted you personally & professionally?
I think it gives you a greater awareness of the relationship between the ownership and the worker. It was a great learning lesson of how every single career path you're going to chase down, you have a mutual understanding between those who own and those who work. There always needs to be a balance and an understanding, and the greater good is served when that balance is achieved. Being armed with that information leaving the NFL and going into my second career was a benefit to me personally.
What advice would you give to yourself looking back?
At every point of my life, I would give myself advice to be a better listener. I think that no matter what younger version of myself I'm talking to, I wish I would have taken more time to listen. I really feel that anybody could benefit from this advice. I'm a doer, I've always been. Sometimes you can accomplish great things by diving in and getting your hands dirty as quickly as possible, but other times it's more important to observe and to respond rather than react. That's something throughout my life I've tried to work on, but without question, when I was beginning my career, observing more and listening more carefully probably would've aided further development or quicker development.
Have you taken advantage of any of the services of the PA since retirement?
Absolutely. I've reached out to my local chapter and reached out to the Trust. One of the more brilliant ideas that the union has negotiated for us is the fact that we have resources as free agents to train and to have meals paid for while we're training. It just made the process of rolling out of my time with teams and into free agency when you're in no man's land waiting for a call, like many players are. If you're not a priority free agent, you could be training for months on end and relying on only yourself to generate the interest and motivation to stay in shape. It's great that the Trust has built a network with Exos and made it possible to work out with guys who are like-minded or in the same position as you. It develops a teamwork and camaraderie that you would feel if you were working out leading into a season on an actual team. I thought that was a really brilliant idea and it's something I used. Also, I went to the broadcast bootcamp and the radio and journalism bootcamp. With both of those, I had already begun my broadcasting career, but it was a useful networking tool to meet people who later became friend or mentors, or even guests on my programs. I've explored a lot of the post-career benefits that are provided by the union and the Former Players department, and it's been a great blessing for me personally.
One of the greatest things that I think is provided post-career by the NFLPA and the Former Players department is the opportunity to keep in touch with other former players, and even current players. One of the things that, as I've started my new career and I've got young children running around, my oldest is four and my youngest is one, we are getting out of the woods of being in the new-born baby mode. On my horizon what I would love to do is be more active with other former players, getting involved at chapter meetings more often, and connecting with guys who experiences similar things. I feel like that's a place of improvement as far as my future goes. I would love to connect and bond more with guys who have done it and live nearby.