Gemara Williams 8:27
I walked away.
Brent Novoselsky 8:29
And when you walk away, you’re not really walking away. They’re kind of pushing you out. Again, but no, they will want me. So you’re leaving immediately, in a different mindset. Plus, you know, you’ve got this network of folks around you, and then all of a sudden, you’re not a player. And there’s a whole bunch of those folks that just they scram. I mean, they just look at the numbers, but they never call you back. They, you know, they’re on to the next athlete. So, you know, although we have the NFL in my background, I always talk to former players and say, Look, use that as a springboard. People want to hear about that. But the direct transition from the game to business is a lot more difficult. It’s a lot trickier than people think. I mean, when I interviewed with GCG, I was I had to get neck surgery, I literally got my neck surgery, and I was on like they I had an issue where I had to have like medicine going in me out of backpack with medicine. And I literally interviewed in a tracksuit with no medicine going in and trying to fight staph infection or the whole big to do but we’re you know you’re able to do that if you bring that that personality and but it’s really so much different than what you’re used to dealing with. on the field in a locker room. All of a sudden, you’ve got to transition that and if you can do it properly. That’s fine, but you know, it’s it’s a different animal. So BMC the gorilla, guys
Jeremy Weisz 10:00
Go ahead, Wendell. You know, you were nodding when he said the, you know, this physical, emotional and different peer group and you were nodding when he was kind of saying, there’s this emotional piece when you leave in different peer group, what are your What are your What was your experience?
Wendell Davis 10:15
Well, yeah, I mean, I think I agree with everything that Brent said, identify with it as well. But there’s no everybody leaves differently from the NFL. Like you said, some people leave on their own terms, some people leave, not all on their own terms. And, and I in and be honest, most people that leave out on their terms, we struggle. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s not easy, because it’s something that you are not ready to do, you are not prepared to do. Now, I will say that there are people now that players now are athletes, now, they is top of mind, and they think about it more often than at least I can speak for myself than I did when I play. I think the younger athletes are a lot better prepared than I was. But, but that transition is different for a lot of people. And you know, it’s different when you you, your your, your your you play football, your life, and you going to use your skills and another profession. You’re not walking into a stadium to use those skills, you walked into a building. And you know, you got people looking at you like, okay, your football player, you know, what, what do you bring to the table? No, we’re not, we’re not throwing any balls in the air. We’re not, we’re not catching any balls, you know, we’re not running, you know, this is this is different. So you have to really get over that hurdle. And I think it really first starts with with the, with the player with the athlete starts in the mind and trying to get through that transition.
Jeremy Weisz 12:14
You mentioned one of the mindset, what was he Oh, that’s different, maybe from today’s athletes. And when you were or for yourself, what was your mindset?
Wendell Davis 12:24
I everything was football, to me. Everything was playing football, and you had in your mind said that football was gonna take you know, two hours ready to stop, you know, 10 years, 12 years, I’m gonna play. And then when you get into League, you find out that the average is less than three years. And then you find out that every time you use step on the field, you’re taking a risk, we’re not talking about just the games without going to practice, you know, you know, and you know, you used in college or playing, you get hurt in college, you go hang around, and you know, you’ll come back the next year, probably, then the pros. You guys are laughing, but then the pros, you don’t want to hang around, hanging around in the, in the training room and in the tub. Yeah, you know, you’re not gonna be there long. And now you tell them about somebody’s profession. Somebody’s job. I got family, I got people depending on me. So it’s a lot different.
Gemara Williams 13:30
Yeah. And just to kind of piggyback what what both Brent and Wendell was saying, um, you know, what’s, what’s interesting about, you know, professional sports as a whole, is average average time, like window set is generally two and a half, three years, right. But when a young player starts out, he’s usually about 21, or 22. So if you become, you know, that that outlier, that makes six, seven, maybe even eight years, you’re still extremely young. in corporate America, you started at 28 in a leadership role, some time, I mean, this is a baby, you’re female, right? And so when you get to that point where you are making that transition, your your, your mind, especially when you’re on the field, you’re still in this age of I’m young, I’m fast, I still have it. And then you build all of these relationships with so many players. And then all at the at the drop of a dime. It’s like okay, well, you’re old, you don’t have it. This is washing away the relationships and the individuals that you’ve built, that have become family brothers, you know, it’s all stripped away from you and you’re completely starting from scratch at that. So it’s a it’s a huge emotional toll. It’s a new chapter that you’re beginning your you start to learn yourself all over as, as, as a man as a football player, you know, as a human being, and so, it’s different stages that you go through as it relates to building your up and then you know recreating yourself at the same time. And you know as a player you’re you’re the mindset is your one way from from superstardom from being that yellow jacket Hall of Famer, everybody on the next level, no matter what position you play, no matter what, you know, what position you on the depth chart, they’re all exceptional athletes, they were all, you know, all American all state, you know, they were these high ranking individuals coming up that you watched as kids in high school and in college. And then they’re putting them all on the same playing field, you know, so it’s a huge, huge, huge transition in form of events that you go through, socially, emotionally and even physically.
Jeremy Weisz 15:46
Right, Gemara what made you transition? Because as Brent asked, Did you have like a, you know, the injury? You’re like, no, I chose a transition. So talk about that for a second.
Gemara Williams 15:58
Oh, so it for me, um, I guess I gotta take a couple steps back. I was born and raised Metro Detroit area. Um, for me, I was always an undersized kid. football was never really something that I imagined playing professionally. It was just, well, if I play football and get a free scholarship, I wanted to go to college. And that was it. I wanted to be a doctor. so
Jeremy Weisz 16:22
will Gemara give people a sense? You say undersized. If someone’s looking at you. Now they’d be like, okay, let’s put this in perspective on your size compared to offensive lineman. So when you graduate high school, what you know, talk about, you know, what was your size in high school?
Gemara Williams 16:37
So in high school, I stepped foot freshman year to a predominantly brother rice. I know there was one in Chicago, Illinois, one here in Michigan. I was four foot 11 105 pounds, walked into a grad freshman year, freshman year. And when I while I was five, six 155. Like Yes. I have big feet at that. But they move so fast. So when I when I graduated, um, and I had some I led him to Buffalo going into buffalo. They sign this kid that was five 650 560 pounds. I show up to the first day camp. I’m five foot nine. But a buck 65 bucks, seven. They’re like, Oh my gosh, where have you been? Now Now I stand about five foot nine to 15 or so. But my plan weighed in pro was was five foot nine, about 190 pounds. Um, but it was a journey. It was a lot of work that was put in it. And in college for me and getting back to the question Dr. Weisz, um, I went to school and I was majoring as an exercise science pre med major. So my minor was, was biology and chemistry. I wanted to go and be a doctor. You know, I was planning on taking the MCAT and sophomore year, college have a outstanding season. And a few agents will call on talking to my parents. And at this point, it dawned on me like, okay, it’s probably a little easier to go to the NFL than it is. I think I’m gonna go this route. And so that happened for me. And first year, I was fortunate enough to land with the New England Patriots. Um, I got interested in in business as a whole franchise and it goes back to what you opened up in the introduction, talking about relationships. So, you know, I started to cultivate many relationships when I was in NFL people was something that you know, I saw had a lot of people skills gravitated to me naturally, I said, Okay, I want to own my own franchise. Um, Coldstone was huge. Back in about 2006 2008 you’d have individuals lining up around the corner to get ice cream. Well, if you remember in 2008, the economy tank. And so when you think about spending 20 bucks to provide your family with ice cream, or $80 to fill up your gas tank. You know, many people were making that decision to go ahead and fill up the gas tank and take care of the family versus the luxury of something like ice cream. But at that point, I had already started the process of you know, being approved, I was in a position to go ahead and buy a store and during North Carolina, um, God told me to put that on hold. And so at that point, the entrepreneur bug was bit right. Second year. We go to the Superbowl had a few injuries that season. It was the infamous 18 and one season where the Patriots lost to the giants, the overhead Catch. From there, not a lot of doors open for me and I am going to CFL. And at this point, you know you’re in a different league the passion isn’t necessarily the same. But again, it’s all about businesses. It is it is what’s my next step? Now I’m preparing for that. Right? You, you made it to the NFL, you reached your high. Um, you know, you’re looking at, okay, is there possibility, you’re thinking about the shelflife, you’re thinking about all the different seminars you had as it relates to, you know, business and finances when you were in the NFL. And so that that that time came for me where it was like, Okay, I want to pursue my education on the next level. So I went and got started working on my MBA finished up with my MBA. And I remember I was in my second season, going into my third season, I was midway through my third season. And we had a bye week over in Canada. And by this time, I had another ACL and ACL tear. So I came back from there a year and a half later. And my girlfriend or wife, wife, now his girlfriend at the time was here in Chicago, and I remember come home to the bye week. And I said to I don’t think I’m gonna play anymore. She’s like, What do you mean, like, you know, your finish season I don’t like, I’m just not passionate, it’s not. It’s not driving me and motivating me the same way that it did and always said that, but I don’t love the game, like I did. When I was a kid, then at that point, I don’t want to play. So I remember called picking up the phone and talk to my agent, um, told him, you know, hey, John, you know, I’m not going back after the bye week, and he’s like, I will just finish the seasons talking to me about. Now, I want to start my next chapter. So he called the team No. And at that point I didn’t even have when I walked away from it, I didn’t even have a job. Does that process of reinventing myself all over? So it’s like, Okay, what do you want to do? Now, one of the misconceptions that people have about professional sports is everybody makes millions of dollars. And so when you’re done, you can just take your millions of dollars thought it’s a business successful. That’s not always the case. Not everyone has millions of dollars. And even if you do, for most entrepreneurs, and business leaders, you know, and understand if you don’t have the skills and the resume to go behind it. Great, we’ll come, we’ll support and see Brent take a cup of water grass, you know, we’ll we’ll come take some pictures window, we’ll have some fun with all of these players. But I’m not going to invest into someone that hasn’t necessarily put in the 10,000 hours of practice that makes you successful, those same skills that you did as a professional football player, in terms of putting in those 10,000 hours a major successful, you have to do it within base. So that was the next step. For me. I remember coming to Chicago, I started filling out tons and tons of applications. Um, one thing that I knew was, again, I want to be a successful entrepreneur, but I don’t have that skill set. You know, when you’re in college, you’re playing sports, you don’t necessarily do the same internships that a normal student has the opportunity to do. So I took an entry level sales job, it was business to business sales, and it was literally one of the most humbling, but learning experience I could have got, you went from signing autographs, to begging for appointments, and learning something that was completely foreign for you, for me. And, you know, one of the things that I did was I use the same skills that that made me successful within sports.
Jeremy Weisz 23:43
I’m curious Gemara, this is a good question. I love it. That it’s, it’s a big transition. It’s humbling. And you, you know, you go from signing autographs to trying to get appointments. I love from each of you. What are some of the tactics you use? Now? You’re in the business world? What do you you have some? I don’t know, street cred in being in professional sports. What what levers Do you pull now to get in front and to get appointments in the door that some people don’t have? So Brent, I love it. I love it. Brent, you name a few. And then Wendell, I’ll come back to
Brent Novoselsky 24:22
you. You know, when you when you get out. everybody’s like, I don’t want to deal with it. I want to watch football. I don’t want to you know, I want to stand on my own two feet. I want to get in there because it’s me enough. Very soon. You realize, I gotta use everything I need, you know, everything I’ve got at my disposal, all my different attributes. So I noticed the payroll companies used to use or they probably still do these very attractive, young, female. Most of them were blonde, and most of them were pretty well endowed. And I always said, if you could get out that, hey, you know, I played an NFL for me. It was I went to Penn. I graduated from Wharton played you I’ll play for the bears had my number retired by the bears long story. Right? You know, I got somewhat of a brain but as an NFL player, you can go see a business owner, you can go see a prospect, usually based upon the fact that that prospect is a fan of the NFL are a fan of football. So I always said, Hey, we are the blondes at the payroll companies, I can go in and talk to these folks. They want to talk to us and and the reality was sales as you’re talking to them for 55 minutes about family about football. last five minutes is okay, hey, let’s talk about the deal. Same thing with a golf course. So I think it’s, it’s absolutely embracing everything that made us what we were and not just saying, No, we spent 10s of 1000s of hours, working out, working out catching balls, running routes, doing all the things we need to do to be successful. All of a sudden, you can’t just scrap that you need to use all of that stuff that you had there use, you know, kind of the outskirts of it. And, and then transition that and again, springboard into success in a different occupation.
Jeremy Weisz 26:08
You know, Wendell What about you? When What did you do when you transitioned from the NFL, to full time business world? And how did you open doors?
Wendell Davis 26:20
For me, it was more what you talked about earlier about relationships, I think it was the relationships that I made with my fellow teammates, but also relationships off to feel. And I am not, I guess in play in playing professional sports, and playing football, you find out who you are, pretty quickly, what you like and what you don’t like, right? What works for you, what what skill sets you have, what you’re good at, and I found out that I am not a guy who could go out and sail. That’s, that’s, that’s not me, I found out that I am good at support roles. You know, I can I can support the team. Same way as a receiver, you know, being very supportive in the offense. That’s kind of what I kind of liken myself to Barnabas in the Bible, you know, a very, very supportive of, of everybody and encouraging people. So I found myself drifting toward mentoring opportunities, you know, getting into starting my own camp, you know, football camp, getting into coaching. You know, I was setting you know, I like to mentor young people that could come in a lot of different forms. It could be a coach, you can be a teacher, it can be whatever, you know, but that’s kind of how I found you know, had got in the door for a lot of opportunities that I
Jeremy Weisz 28:07
yeah, yeah, I love it. And um, I want to go through and talk about maybe what what was a high point high moment career wise, and then low moment career wise in football as Gemara start us off what was always a high point and low point they’ll say the Super Bowl. You say they don’t say the eight when he was high Oh that’s right.
Gemara Williams 28:46
It was that that that media day week? Man, that’s that’s definitely a surreal moment. It is that that moment when you’re tossing the ball around as a kid, whether you play with yourself a plan by which your friends that you’re, it’s this play, I’m in a Super Bowl, and you know, you stage for yourself. And so that was definitely you know, being there being in that atmosphere being around that and being able to take pictures with some of the legends you know, Jerry Rice Ronnie Lott Dion you know, meeting those guys and having them interview you for for that big moment. That was huge. That was
Jeremy Weisz 29:26
what about low low point
Gemara Williams 29:28
low first training camp partial tear to hamstring I, you know, doing was having a great camp rookie year. Playing multiple positions, starting off and doing four reps at corner with with one group. Then I go to the safety position, then go to nickel. And you know at this point, I’m just thinking, Oh man, I can’t wait for the season. And you have that partial tear and I never missed a game in college. For me to be sidelined for many months, that was tough. Very tough.
Jeremy Weisz 30:06
Brent, what about you? is easy high point.
Brent Novoselsky 30:10
Yeah, I point. My first year with the Vikings. I just gotten cut from the Packers played on Monday night, the last game of the year when they used to play the games on Monday night. And we play clean Cincinnati, excuse me, and they were very good. They just kind of the Super Bowl the past year, and four minutes left to go in the game 4002 on our own two yard line with Herschel Walker, Anthony Carter, Steve Jordan, and they threw the ball on me and caught the ball in the corner in the end zone, got my feet down, scored a touchdown, no two point play at the time. So we were leading by nine and Boomer size and couldn’t couldn’t take them back. So we want to win and go to the playoffs. And yeah, that by far was was the greatest moment and I still play it on a loop. But then that the hardest was November 27 1994. Against Tampa Bay, I was running down on second quarter I kick off and made a great tackle, and knee hit my shoulder and my top my discout c three, four, and didn’t make it past halftime was in clothing, going to get x rayed and the doctor asked me how many car accidents I’ve been in. And he said, You’re not going back. And that was it. That was all of a sudden realizing there’s more to life than football, which that was the shocking part because we were driving around during the game. I’m like, why are people out? Walking through maybe watching the game? It just didn’t dawn on me that actually not everybody in the world. watch football? No. Yeah.
Jeremy Weisz 31:37
I remember watching and when have you go but I remember watching Brett, I don’t know there’s a clip out on YouTube or something that’s like nine or 11 minutes of just a highlight reel of you tackling people from kickoff. I don’t know that Wendell. Gemara. You’re he’s got this patented fist pump. Like no matter what your tiger, Tiger it was. It’s It’s so inspiring the vigor that you’ve played with. Wendell, what about you? What was low point and high point?
Wendell Davis 32:16
There’s a lot of high points. I’m playing mind God go all the way back to playing, playing you football. Playing you football play High School ball play, and I got so many. But the one that really stands out to me over my football career is the day I got drafted. To the bears. It was stands out because it was a day that you know, it was this a lot of pressure. A lot of waiting all day. I ended up being the last pick in the first round. But what made it so special was the time I spent with my mother. The way we celebrated our birthday, we had a house full of people. But we went out and went to one of the bedrooms and we celebrated together which was really made special for me. And as far as the low point
Jeremy Weisz 33:23
really quickly, Wendell Yeah. Growing up that you always want to be a football player.
Wendell Davis 33:30
Yeah, I love playing I started out playing baseball. That was the first sport that I organized sport that I play. And I got pretty good at baseball. But then it got introduced to football. I used to play football in the neighborhood but not in a normal you know, not with a fee. And then you know, the talent just came out in football. Then after that i thought i’d pursue football but I played baseball and got drafted by the Giants high school but decided you know, a home play football thing. my skill set is better football. But yeah. And after that I just always wanted to play by football.
Jeremy Weisz 34:14
Before you get to the low point. What was it like? You know, you mentioned your mom, what was her emotion and reaction at when you got drafted? Ah,
Wendell Davis 34:26
I mean it was it’s hard to describe she was very emotional. I mean there was crying. You know, the whole thing you know, my, my dad was in the other room. But for some reason my mom and I went to the back room. And the emotion was she was excited for me because she had notes she first of all her support over the years were was was amazing because she supported me and all of our our kids and everything that we did. And so she was very supportive into Just to see that happen to go on the first round. It was just overwhelming for her. So we both cried. Time. Yeah, yeah, it’s
Jeremy Weisz 35:12
amazing. What, um, what about low point?
Wendell Davis 35:18
So sort of the low point you would think I would mess around. If people know my career being that I grew out both my knees on one play in Philadelphia. That was a, that was a pretty low point, I think. But thank God I had, I had family at the time, I had a wife and I had a daughter. And so, you know, I was, I had faith in I mean, I thought I thought that that would Brought me through it, the injury. But the lowest point was when the bears decided to let me go. Cut me. And I realized that, you know, I hadn’t really prepared for life after football. That was the low point. And is kind of scary at the time. And you know, how are you gonna transition out of it? I got a family. You know, yeah, made some money. But like this, like Gemara said, you know, that career so short, you still got the rest of your life to live. So that was the low point for me.
Jeremy Weisz 36:28
Thanks for sharing that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I was reading about it, when I was trying to picture it. And, um, you know, what, I when I was reading about your injury, and said, basically spent months in a wheelchair, with his legs encased in cast from thigh to ankle, I’m trying to visual I’m like, I can’t even imagine that. You know what I mean? I have a picture of if you’d like to see. It’s knowing the size of when those legs gigantic casts very thin. advice would you give when you go back to your, your younger self, your playing self? What advice do you give yourself about while you’re playing for the future? And after NFL and I love you know, Gemara and Brent, after you to talk about that. What advice do you go back and give yourself or right now someone playing? who’s like, yeah, I’m invincible. I’m 26. I’m 21. I’m top of my game. I’m invincible right now. What do you What advice do you give your younger?
Wendell Davis 37:38
And I would, I would encourage that. But I would also say that you’re invincible because I think all 2021 year olds think they’re invincible at that point. But if I would tell myself, don’t just define yourself as an athlete. I would say, you know, I don’t want to use a cliche. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But you know, don’t you know, make sure you find out who you are and what you want to do. Look outside of athletics. I tell kids when I talk to them, don’t be Don’t Don’t be on a monorail. You know, monorail is just a one track that I like describe it goes through Disney. It’s not gonna go out of Disney. Because the monorail only goes through Disney, you can’t you know, there’s no other track. You need to get on two tracks, you know, in your education. And being an iffy if you do that you sift, it doesn’t guarantee success, but to give yourself a better chance. Yeah.
Jeremy Weisz 38:47
I mean, playing devil’s advocate for a second. Is that part of what made you so good, though, that you were so focused on football? And same thing with Brent, you’re like, why would anyone do anything besides or watch or play football?
Wendell Davis 39:00
Yeah, yeah. But yeah, but I know a lot of other people that are really good. Who on two tracks? Right? So it’s not like, it’s just I think you can do both. I think it’s, they call you a student athlete for a reason. And you should take advantage of it. You know, and, you know, and believe me, some people is, I think it’s situation, the situation you’re in, right? I mean, some, some people, you know, hey, this is the way that I’m gonna make it out of here and I’m gonna focus on totally on this, this is what I know and it’s what I’m gonna do. And it works for some people. But you know, I think like I said, doesn’t guarantee anything, but I think it gives you a better chance at being being successful if you do it the opposite way.
Jeremy Weisz 39:52
Gemara, what about you advice you would give to your younger self or people out there playing right now. Some some thoughts.
Gemara Williams 40:00
Um, I mean, window came with it, man I was, that was a great, great, great response, um, in terms of you being more than just an athlete, the three things that are always certain is death taxes, in the end of your professional career,
Jeremy Weisz 40:16
don’t say injury and football
Gemara Williams 40:19
end of your career all together, you know, at some point, um, Tom will not be Tom terrific anymore. So boy, he’s glad to hang it up. He might be 50 by the time he does that, but But no, seriously, um, there’s so many things within your life that you you you can do and that you were created to do. And from the time that individuals learn that you’re faster, can throw a ball and catch a ball, hit somebody extremely hard. Your patterns are made out for you, your schedule is made out for you. But at some point, it’s going to end so you know, take control of that early love the game at its purest form, um, but also, at the back of your mind, continue to identify with who you are. And so that when you do, where you have to make that transition, it’s smoother because you know, who you are and what you want to do.
Jeremy Weisz 41:10
Brent, what about you, your your younger self?
Brent Novoselsky 41:12
Yeah, you know what, I think it’s easy to say, but you know, enjoy the moment, more luck in To me, it really is the pinnacle of why we have problems transitioning isn’t that, you know, when you’re, it’s like telling a new parent. Oh, and just enjoy having your kids. They’re like, Are you kidding me? I got all this stuff I gotta do it’s like, oh, my God, I can’t you know, I can’t get any sleep. And, and the same thing with us. You know, I think about walking out on a on a football field, you put it on a pad, you got the, you know, you got the uniform on you looking good. And you know, you went out for warm ups. Now you’re ready to go out there, they’re playing Star Spangled Banner. And, you know, for me, all the intensity, all the work all the I mean, just you’re, you’ve got that, that emotion in you. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m terrified of going out there. And, and making a fool of myself in front of 1000s. Like we had 65,000 people at the metronome. We got millions of people watching on ESPN. You know, for me, at Penn, the most we had was 30,000. Maybe, you know, you know, tomorrow is at Buffalo. So you got maxion you know, maybe not on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. But on the weekends, he had a few folks. When I was playing down LSU as pro baby, they got everybody down and watching it. But for me it was. And that’s why I used to go to the bathroom so much before the game because I didn’t want any accidents on a feeling like you know what, to be fair, it’s, that’s the thing is you’re going out there and it’s like, my manhood is being put on the line right now, I want to curl up in a ball. And I remember, I remember that, you know, right before we go out at the Metrodome, there’d be they have like the carts in the corner. And I’m like, man, I just want to crawl into that cart and hide. And, you know, but you know what, I went out there and I faced it. And then by the time you get done with the first hit, you’re like, Okay, now I’m back in it, okay, I’m, I can do this, there’s nothing that compares to the high all that work going in, and then excelling on the field and feeling like, Hey, I belong, all that work is worth it, I faced the demons, I faced all this, you know, the challenges, you never feel like that, again, the pressure and the pressures inside and the butterflies and because it’s not only emotional, but it’s physical to you, like, there’s nothing else, you know, you go into a business meeting, okay, you go in there, and that’s some sort of a high, but there’s no, it’s not the physical, you know, pushing yourself to the, to the limits, breaking fingers bloody, you know, scraping yourselves on the on the turf and all that goes into that there’s just so many hours and so much blood, sweat and tears that goes into that. And then the pinnacle of that is then to perform. And to do that on such a stage and the performance to be successful, and and to fail, but then be able to come back. It’s just, it’s the greatest thing. And we’ve we’ve all done this. And we all pointed to that since we were little kids, that’s all we knew in our lives up to that point was solely into that bucket. And then all of a sudden, we’re told you can’t do that anymore. It’s like, okay, now what do we do and how do I replace that? Hi. So that’s how you get a lot of guys that have issues with, you know, whether it be drugs or whether it be you know, whatever they’re doing, you just can’t replace that you try to pick pieces of it, you know, competitive I’m gonna go play golf. No, okay, nobody’s hitting you. You know, it’s it’s a stupid game because I’m not very good at it. But you try to replace bits and pieces. I’m playing baseball again because like when done I wanted to be a catcher. I mean, I want to be Johnny Bench. And I’m catching now. And I’m enjoying it. But it’s not. It’s not that when you talk competition competition, you talk, what we did, you know, to strap up a helmet and go out there and basically get a fistfight with somebody on national TV. Nothing can ever replace that. So I think it’s the, yes, you want to enjoy what you can, but you then have to take bits and pieces, and you’ve got to understand you’re losing something and you’ve got to grieve for it. And yeah, and that there’s always gonna be a hole in me that that Pete, then it’s not always bad, because it was nerve wracking to go through that. I mean, and when
Wendell Davis 45:47
I got a question for you guys. And I know you do it, so don’t Don’t lie. Okay. I still have dreamed that I’m playing. Yeah, yes. Yeah. And I, and it’s real. Yes. They feel so real. They feel so real. But yeah, I’m still playing and out, man. I’m like, oh, man, I’m back in the league. And I wake up and say, Oh, I gotta go to work. But,
Brent Novoselsky 46:19
but I think that, you know, the nerve wracking piece of that, is that, you know, coaches can cut you. Yeah, I mean, literally, my first year with the Vikings. was Mark Rodenhiser. And I were rooming Mark was a long snapper. The roadie and I you know, we kind of got this thing in our mind that if they didn’t call you by Wednesday, to cut you, you got paid for another week. So the rule in the house that I shared with him was don’t answer the phone till Wednesday. It was the stupidest thing in the world, they cut to the content, you know, they just put it away, right, your cut, but you want to see it’s thought well, if they can’t get ahold of us. So, but it was so I mean, it was just, yeah, it was stressful, you know, learning new offenses, and then get again, you know, going out there in the field, somebody getting paid a lot of money to beat you up. And then you can’t avoid that. And, more importantly, avoid the TV cameras. You know, when I got hurt the one thing I was thinking about Ben, it’s gonna look good on ESPN. But you get I mean, I got smacked one time my feet were over my head before I knew I was going on. And again, that’s the first feeling getting up. I don’t care how hurt I am. They got to show that it’s just so you can’t understand the depth of that of everything put together and just that high and that excitement and that intensity. And you’re never ever going to replace that again in your life. And I think a lot of guys try to spend the rest of their life searching for something or things that can get them close to that feeling. And the reality is you got to grieve, just like you would grieve a loved one and just understand that you never got to feel that way. Again, you’ve had it once it was great. But it there’s a hole in the now that says that’s never gonna come back. And like Wendell says, you dream about it, like, Oh my god, it’s great. And then all sudden you wake up you’re like, ah, for me that I’m like, oh, okay, I have to go on. My that’s the I think that’s the part about the transition, is that that missing piece there, just get it again, it’s, it’s just the intensity, good and bad. Because it’s both a
Jeremy Weisz 48:40
lot of pressure. Yeah, a lot of pressure. I love to hear about a few big influences for each of you whether it was another player, a coach, in the league, maybe someone you admired and maybe even they weren’t directly in contact with them, but you just they influenced you by the way they played or where they acted. So Wendell I love to start with you and talk about a few influences for you?
Wendell Davis 49:06
Yeah, yeah, there was quite a few. But people that stand out to me as you know, Britain, Britain, I was drafted. Same you by the same team. We’ve same draft class. But when when we got to the Chicago Bears, they had a nucleus of the Super Bowl team still here. And the guys that really during that time really, I kind of looked up to and was watching to see how to be a professional football player. Guys like Dennis Gentry. Mike Singletary, of course our Harris that Thomas Sanders got a guy’s like that, that I was looking at them and saying, Oh man, how do you be a perfect football player those guy was actually showing me how to do that and became good friends and good mentors of mine and then over the years guys that that played before me that played around the league that you meet and you meet in the Players Association guys like Emory Morehead guys like Jim Osborne who became a big mentor of mine and hired me and he retired and I had me for his position when he retired so so guys like that guy that really made an impact on me just because of who they are. Then by the way he played, but it’s about who they are.
Jeremy Weisz 50:48
Nice Yeah, thank you. Yeah, cuz I know you went on and you coached with Mike Singletary riding with the niners too. So yeah, Gemara, what about you? influences?
Gemara Williams 51:00
Yeah, my mentor, um, first year in league was Jr. Say, um, you know, he’s exceptional individual. I’m no longer with us today. For anybody who might not follow Football Hall of Famer. But Jr. Say I grew up 11 years old, rockin jersey. Oh, to share the field with them was huge. But I never forget. You know, the first time we really linked up. I used to watch Jr. Jr. never opened his playbook. Many, many, many years of experience in the NFL and never opened his playbook. And so I remember walking up to him asking like, dude, how do you you always know where to go, you know, every play before happens and you never open your playbook. So he said, Come in and watch film one. So every Wednesday and Thursday, I would get up at 6am. And we watch film together. And he played linebacker I play corner and you know, two totally different positions, both on defense, but they’re different. But he was able to teach me things that he learned as a linebacker that helped me on the field as a defensive back. So you know what, I’ll give you a quick example. You know, he told me that whenever offensive linemen wash their feet, whenever they pass block, look at in the first quarter, and by the time the third and fourth quarter comes, you’ll notice that set starts to extend a little bit more. And that’s because they’re getting tired. And they still that lets you know when you’re in cover, too, that you’re going to set the edge so it gives you a second, you know, have a head start to go ahead and prepare yourself a certain age burden, protection. So it’s little things like that on the field, but off the field, the way you carry yourself. I’m strong Christian, nice to everyone. always positive, always upbeat. I’m just the most kindest, gentle spirit that you’ll ever meet. And so, um, you know, that was just a individual that you know, definitely influenced me and carried yourself the right way and humble regardless of the status. Oh, yeah.
Jeremy Weisz 53:03
Thanks for sharing that. Yeah, it’s tea left too early. So Brent, what about you?
Brent Novoselsky 53:09
Well, I’m gonna say you guys didn’t tell me to cover it obviously mom and dad. Yeah, yeah, you guys forgot it but obviously know for me and then offense. I
Jeremy Weisz 53:20
did ask. I did guys players,
Brent Novoselsky 53:22
players. Okay. short, short memory when we came out the same year Wendell was drafted first round, so he got 82 I was a free agent. So they gave me number 98 as a tight end. And I you know, somebody says, well, why’d you wear 98 I said because I couldn’t wear a three digit number. So but as far as players you know, for the bears was definitely hammered. I mean, me Morehead I love Emory Emory is greatest Emmys last year was my first year so um, and Emory breaking his leg in the third game that seasons The reason I got called back so my whole career is due to Emrys bad news. Thank God for me more. Cut block two because Emery was not a big guy. So he that cut block was that was the saving grace. I use that a lot. aska Packer is Tim, I forget Harris in hairs. Yeah, cut Tim 20 times and again, Herschel Walker’s first game I caught him 20 times. And Herschel Walker got 275 yards. So lambri for the career and then obviously six years I spent backing up Steve Jordan. With the Vikings. Steve went to brown Ivy League’s smartest guy, great national athletes. The fact that that guy’s not in the hall of fame is a joke, and it’s because he lived up in you know, you’ve played in Minnesota, but Steve to me just it was mind and body because we played with a guy named Joey Browner. And Joey was the toughest sob the strongest hands and you used to go up against him and Joey was like 220 You know that six two by my size I was six. I didn’t like I didn’t like that guy and like Joey No, I tried to block him in practice and you he do like he was like a black belt. So you’d be on the ground and you like what happened? I have no idea what he just did. So we go out to Team practice. And you try to block Joey he make you look like a fully get in on the tackle. And I was back there one day. I’m like, Steven, how do you block Joey? And Steve goes home and Steve was so laid back. greatest thing about Steve is that Oh, man. All you got to do with Joey. Don’t touch him. At all. What? Because Joey doesn’t like to be touched. Don’t touch him. So how am I gonna block if I don’t touch him? Because you’ll figure it out. So I run up to Joey I go Joey, I gotcha. didn’t touch him. just walked up to him face to face joy. I gotcha. Hands down on my side. He stayed right there with me. It’s more years. Don’t worry, I gotcha. Gotcha. He didn’t piss him off. And he wouldn’t really play. So I know that those guys were phenomenons in the fact Yeah. See, Jordan made the Ring of Honor. He should be. He’s one of the best tight ends ever played the position and he had longevity.
Jeremy Weisz 56:13
I would love for you. First of all, thank all of you. I love let’s see amazing stories. Amazing advice. I want to just tell people a little bit what you’re working on now where they could find you. And by the way, Brent Yeah, like I grew up around the corner from the more heads and actually, my brother was good friends with Aaron growing. So I was able to go to the Colts games at times too. So yeah, great family. So what you’re working on now, where should people should should learn more? Wendell what tell people about what you’re working on now and where they can check you out?
Wendell Davis 56:50
Well, right now I am currently Manager of Diversity for a local steel processing company in Elk Grove village. been in this position for almost four years now. as I alluded to earlier, my mentor Jim Osborne was in this position for over 20 years. And he decided to retire and so he recruited me to take his position. And so I stepped in his shoes. He retired this year. So I stepped in issues this year, but that’s what I’m doing. We are one of the largest steel steel processing companies in North America minority owned. We’ve been around for over 55 years.
Jeremy Weisz 57:36
Wow, amazing. Gemara, what about you?
Gemara Williams 57:41
I’m a Client Engagement Executive for RL Canning. We’re homegrown here in Chicago minority owned women owned entity. We’re not global. You know, we provide tons of services for an IT space for Chicago Public Schools state of Illinois, Health and Hospitals along with some some major fortune 100 companies as well. In addition to that, I’m also border director member for an organization called Ryan Banks Academy. So it’s the only boarding school here in Chicago with the emphasis on the social emotional aspects of learning that is tuition free students.
Jeremy Weisz 58:22
Amazing. Thanks for awesome Brent, what about you?
Brent Novoselsky 58:26
taxes? Well, since I retired 27 years now going on 27 insurance investments, worth a lot of small businesses, small midsize businesses, individuals, doing their plan, getting them all set for whatever retirement etc. But one of the things that the three of us shares were on the board, the local NFL players Association Chapter The former players Wendell is actually the President I’m the treasurer, Jim Rouse key Vice President and you can go to RPFPC.com. RPFPC, which is retired professional football players of chicago.com and I came up with that name thinking somebody more much more creative would replace that at some point, and we don’t have anybody more creative. Scary. It goes to show you how creative you are scary, scary. So that’s our that’s actually the foundation that’s our foundation, our 501c three charitable arm. We raise money for scholarships we give local boy and girl high school seniors. The NFLPA gives them $2500 scholarships, we give another 500 and then we give $3,000 to them for the rest of their college career the next three years. And then we also give youth football organizations in Chicago, deserving youth football organizations that are you know, undergoing rough times. money wise, we give them football grants, equipment grants, so and then just tie our guys together and Really length the Brotherhood of former players so that we can support other charitable organizations because we get a million different requests. And we like to fill that out. And guys love to be here and be in the area and help out. So even when they’re in Detroit, which is a wonderful things, great outreach.
Wendell Davis 1:00:20
Thank you all one. Go ahead. And Jeremy, one thing I’d like to add, yeah, just to to, to kind of transition or to to piggyback on what what we’ve been talking about. Today, as far as transitioning, the the NFLPA, and when Brent and I that the NFLPA wasn’t as strong as it is now, when when I was was in the league. But I’m sure Gemara can attest to this. They but over the years, they develop so many resources now, for players to help them with the transition. So I mean, you got anything from educational, the health of family matters, I mean, anything you can think of that that players will have a struggle with transitioning from the NFL, the PA has created these great resources, like the trust and things like that, to help players transition so it’s getting a whole lot better, and I think it’s gonna keep improving.
Jeremy Weisz 1:01:23
Thank you all. mention Brent, one more time the URL.
Brent Novoselsky 1:01:28
So it’s RPFPC.com.
Jeremy Weisz 1:01:34
Got it. RPFPC.com got it. First of all, thank you all on the first one a thank you. Thanks, everyone. Check out more episodes and we’ll see you on the other side.