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An NFL Veteran Tackles a New Career

Garrick Jones made the most of his professional football career and now makes a living advising younger players how to do the same.

THEN: Garrick Jones (pictured at left) had bounced around the NFL and the Canadian Football League as an offensive tackle for several years, and he had recently been signed by the Houston Texans when he appeared in our Bonus Babies story in December 2004. He knew his $305,000 annual salary could be short-lived, so he was saving in the NFL’s 401(k) plan, continuing the graphic-design business he started in high school and making the most of his NFL connections to prepare for life after football. “This is the best temporary job you can have,” he said, “but it helps to have something to fall back on.”

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NOW: Jones, now 36, continued to play for the Texans and became involved in programs to help disadvantaged kids in Houston. He went to the Atlanta Falcons’ training camp in 2006 but returned to Houston while his wife was going through a high-risk pregnancy with twins. A year after Gavin and Gizelle were born in 2007, he returned to Canada and played in Calgary and Edmonton for three years.

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Jones ran into financial troubles while going through a divorce in 2008, the same year he suffered a shoulder injury and was placed on injured reserve. In 2009, he left Canada and was hired by an arena football team in his hometown of North Little Rock, Ark., near his children. “I wanted to do some coaching and playing, and my son wanted to see me play,” he says.

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After retiring from football in 2010, Jones had to adjust to a new life. He maintained his graphic-design business on the side, but gradually transitioned into the coaching and business side of football to “develop a league where I could focus on things I knew would be beneficial to the players.”

In 2012, he cofounded the States Developmental Football League, which helps players between the ages of 18 and 30 in Arkansas and Texas learn about both football and finance. He uses his NFL connections to give players exposure to coaches and scouts, and he brings in outside experts to offer classes in budgeting, investing and starting a business. “We try to teach them about the things they need to know outside of being players,” says Jones. “Nobody taught me that in the NFL you get paid six months out of the year but not the other six months. You need to learn to live below your means.”

His players benefit from his experience and mistakes. “I was paid well. But at any given moment, that career can be taken away from you through an injury, or you can be cut from the team,” he says. “You have to understand that success is not guaranteed. But the NFL is a great platform from which to do other things.”

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