By Shawn Hunter
DeMaurice Smith is my new hero.
I was lucky enough to sit and interview DeMaurice, executive director of the NFL Players Association, who just completed a 9,000 mile tour to visit every one of the NFL’s 32 teams and the 1,800 players who make the game as great as it is today.
With an average career lifespan of 3.4 years, rising statistic of bankruptcy five years after retirement (DeMaurice doesn’t like the word ‘retirement’, but more on that in a moment), 100% injury rate, increased fines, and reduced benefits, it’s no wonder DeMaurice is a busy man.
DeMaurice calls the likelihood of an NFL lockout this spring 140% because he is simply unwilling to compromise on the health and benefits of the players. NFL players have a 100% injury rate. That’s right, everyone gets hurt. It’s just a matter of when. And DeMaurice will always be in your corner. Put it this way – if you were ever in a legal negotiation, you want DeMaurice on your side. He’s that tenacious.
He visits every team and player to have that personal and direct touch, and he is also on a mission to teach them something else: financial literacy. In his words, if you fail to prepare for life after the NFL, you have failed as a businessman, a leader, and a father. It is the responsibility of every player to educate themselves and prepare their family for their future after the game.
And now you get why he doesn’t like the word ‘retired’ because it suggests they have left the game and the league, and DeMaurice wants you, the former player, to know that he will never leave you.
He also always focuses on the positive. While mainstream media wants to talk about bar room fights and DUIs, DeMaurice wants the fans to know that players also helped rebuild villages in Africa, provided labor and relief efforts in Haiti and donate time and energy to their communities. It is with tireless passion and energy that DeMaurice works for the players each and every day.
Take a lesson from DeMaurice and recognize that life is wonderful indeed when you find that intersection of passion, integrity, and sense of purpose. As DeMaurice put it, “Every job I’ve had, I felt at that moment it was what I was born to do.”