Catching Up with Former Reps: Ryan Mundy
Former NFL safety Ryan Mundy spent 8 seasons with the Steelers, Giants, and Bears. He played his collegiate career at University of Michigan and West Virginia University, where he was selected by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame’s Hampshire Honor Society as a scholar-athlete. He was also a Super Bowl XLIII champion with the Steelers. We caught up with Ryan and he gave us insight into his life during and after football.
What is your current career?
I am an entrepreneur/investor. I started an investment company immediately coming out of the NFL, where I got to go to early-stage startups in sports, media, entertainment, cryptocurrency, and health and wellness. I haven’t been extremely active in that company for about a year because I started a company called SWZLE, which is an ecofriendly straw company. We offer consumer items that allow individuals to carry around their own stainless steel straws in unique packaging to get from point A to point B, and we also sell paper straws commercially to small coffee shops on up to large hotel chains. And I’m working on a new business now. Definitely staying busy.
How would you describe your experience leaving the game?
Honestly it was hard, to put it pretty simply. I tell folks this all the time, and it’s the common denominator whether you had a three-year stint or an eight-year stint like myself or you’ve played twenty-years like Tom Brady, it doesn’t matter if you fall somewhere in between, you eventually face a day where you’re no longer an NFL athlete. And when that day comes upon you you’ll still be a relatively young man. So really thinking about what life looks like beyond the playing surface, outside the stadium, is a daunting task and one that I tried to be as proactive as possible about, educating myself, networking, getting to know people, and continuing learning. But even still with my proactiveness, it’s somewhat difficult because you’re walking away from something you spent your entire life doing. Thinking about what’s next again, it is a challenge. But relying on the grit, the determination, and all those great things that helped me, and not only me but other NFL athletes, become professionals, saying that that’s who I am at my core and those are traits that will be with me whether I play football or whether I don’t play football. I think you’re just repurposing them to a new context, and going out there and working hard.
What are you most proud of during your time as a player rep?
Having the respect and admiration of your cohorts, and they look to you as a player rep for information, for insight. That’s not to be taken lightly. Particularly when we talk about transitioning out and the resources that are offered by the NFL and NFLPA to help mitigate some of those risks. That’s a really big deal when guys have the respect, admiration, and trust to come to you for advice or resources. That’s something that meant a lot to me.
How has being a player rep impacted you personally & professionally?
Kind of piggybacking off that last comment, really stepping into a leadership role, that’s a big deal, particularly when you think about the demographic that player reps serve. These men are high-performing athletes, the best in the world at what they do, a lot of Type A personalities in that room. Being on the outside in the real world for a few years now, you get a sense and a real understanding that the locker room and NFL ecosystem is a very unique place. To have a leadership position in that ecosystem is something that’s very special.
What advice would you give to yourself looking back?
There is so much coming to my mind, but this really encapsulates a lot: Try new things. Football is not forever, and football is not the only value that a football player can deliver to this world. In order to understand and know what else you’re interested in or what you can deliver of value, you need to try new things, expose yourself to new people, and be open to new experiences.
Have you taken advantage of any of the services of the PA since retirement?
I’ve done the Brain and Body, I’ve pretty much done everything. I hit LaShae up from time to time to make sure I’m on top of all my benefits, particularly with the Trust, which I think has an awesome cornucopia of resources for guys to really empower them in that transition. I have not used of some of the scholarships yet. But there’s a lot of great resources out there that the guys can take advantage of. And that’s always at the top of my mind, particularly as I’m very active in the business community, there’s a lot of resources that can help with some the needs I may have.
I’m starting another business, and I’m really excited for it. I can’t dive into too many details but it’s in the wellness and personal care space and something I’m really excited about. Thinking about wellness and personal care, and my background as a professional athlete, that’s pretty much been my entire life, so it makes a lot of sense, and I’m really excited about this next opportunity.