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New Orleans Saints News



The Saints are hoping quarterback Drew Brees has at least five to 10 more years left in that golden arm of his. But whenever his playing days are done, the three-time Pro Bowler plans to excel on an entirely different playing field.

Brees is one of four Saints and 94 players leaguewide participating in this year's NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, offered at four major universities throughout the country.

Brees spent four intensive days at Stanford's Graduate School of Business last week. Guard Jamar Nesbit completed the first of a two-part session at Pennsylvania's renowned Wharton School. Cornerback Leigh Torrence has completed half of the program at Harvard, and defensive end Rob Ninkovich tackled the program at Northwestern.

"I'm always thirsting for knowledge, so this is a great opportunity," said Brees, 30, who is one of a small group of players to participate in the program twice.

He previously participated in the Wharton program during the first year it was offered to NFL players in 2005. He had also signed up at Northwestern in 2006 and at Harvard in 2007 but was unable to participate because of his shoulder and elbow injuries.

"Certainly I have a lot of business interests outside of Football, and things I'm going to want to do when my career is over," said Brees, who learned from professors, business executives, entrepreneurs and former NFL players who have achieved success off the field. "What other time would you have this kind of opportunity to learn from these people?"

The NFL created the program in conjunction with the NFL Players Association in 2005, and 407 players have participated, according to the league. The players must pay to enroll, but under the Collective Bargaining Agreement they can be reimbursed for up to $15,000 per year for education expenses at accredited institutions.

Players complete an application to be selected, and they are chosen on the basis of education level, professional business experience, interest in starting, owning or managing a business, and leadership and community involvement.

Other Saints who have participated in the past include cornerback Mike McKenzie and snapper Kevin Houser.

Nesbit, 32, said there was "nothing typical" about the back-to-school experience. Most days lasted around 12 hours, with one session after another.

The Wharton program has a heavy focus on the real estate business, but all of the programs cover a wide range of topics, including the economics of sports, how to market yourself as a brand, leadership skills, negotiating techniques, financial planning, reading financial documents, and the stock market.

Nesbit said it was fascinating to learn more about the state of the economy and how it got to this point. He said he plans to have some more involved conversations with his financial advisors now.

One of Brees' assignments at Stanford was to give a presentation about E Ball Games, a company that produces sports simulation technology.

According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, which was allowed access to the class, "Brees continued for several minutes, sounding more like a CEO than a quarterback. He detailed sponsorship needs, outlined the challenge of new technologies and explained how E Ball could do for sports what flight simulators do for the military."

Brees said he doesn't know exactly what he'd like to do after Football. For now, he said, "I'm trying to expose myself to a lot of things, trying to find out what I'm good at, what really interests me, what I really want to do."

"One of the speakers told us the key to being a successful entrepreneur is to find something you really love to do, then find a way to get paid for it," Brees said. "Essentially, that's what we do as pro athletes."

Nesbit said he did have something in mind, but he was too business savvy to share his ideas.

"All great entrepreneurs never let their ideas out of the bag until they're ready to do it," Nesbit said.

. . . . . . .

Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3405.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 12, 2009

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