#AthleteAnd Workshop: A Virtual Brand-Building Event

  • #AthleteAND
  • Demario Davis
  • Emmanuel Acho
  • Football
  • NFL
  • nfl free agency
  • Nneka Ogwumike
By Savanah Matney February 20, 2021 0 Comment
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#AthleteAnd Logo

#AthleteAND Virtual Workshop

On Tuesday, February 16, the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) hosted its third annual #AthleteAND Workshop. Only this year, it was completely virtual. #AthleteAND was created to help NFL players identify themselves off the field. The event which had 140 professional athletes in attendance shared how important it is for athletes to find their “AND”.

New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis was a guest panelist for the event, he said, “Most people only know how to interact with us as athletes.” Davis encourages people to use that as an advantage by getting outside the game and engaging with people who could provide other areas of opportunity. “The game provides so many opportunities and access to places that you may not have had access to had you not played. Eventually, those doors are gonna close; but as you’re inside those doors what you can do is create relationships,” he said.

Emmanuel Acho had a similar attitude to Davis. The analyst, author, and former NFL player said that he would tell his younger self to maximize the opportunities he had. “Leverage your connections while you’re in the NFL because the doors will not swing as wide open once you’re no longer in the NFL,” he said; “The ‘AND’ is what comes outside of being an athlete and what comes once the game is over.”

Transitioning from Athlete to AND

Another guest speaker for this event was Spencer Paysinger, the real-life inspiration for the show “All-American”. Paysinger retired from the NFL in 2017 and moved on to working in the TV/Film industry. He is now a consulting producer for “All-American”.

One of the biggest difficulties he faced shifting into his AND was communication. “It was hard initially because at first a lot of people were still talking to me as an athlete,” he stated. He had to put it on himself to learn the language of the new world he was entering into and not allow where he came from to speak for him.

Overcoming Inequities in Women’s Sports

While taking advantage of opportunities can help athletes find their AND, it’s not as easy for women in professional sports. Nneka Ogwumike, WNBPA President, Activist, and WNBA Player for the Los Angeles Sparks spoke on the issues that surround women. “I know for most women athletes, In team sports, we never leave that mode of what’s next? Because of the inequities that we already experience in our sport,” she said. Because the resources are not equal, many women have to create their own opportunities.

According to Ogwumike, many times women make more money after they are done playing. The advice she gives to people looking to find their “AND” is simple.

  1. “You can’t be a hater in this world. If you’re a hater, you won’t get very far.”
  2. “Empower other people as you empower yourself.”

The conversation surrounding the “AND” of being an athlete continues to gain attention in sports and looks to continue encouraging athletes to step outside the game. For more information about #AthleteAND, https://nflpa.com/athleteand.

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Sports Management Graduate Student | University of Southern Miss. Intern, Marshall University Athletics Account Manager, TheSportsPOV TikTok


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