(photo by Brian Murphy)
Washington Redskins running back Ladell Betts is not your stereotypical NFL player. While most fans might think of football players as nothing more than flashy young millionaires “making it rain” at their choice of gentlemen’s club, Betts is busy setting himself up for success after he hangs up the cleats. We caught up with the eighth-year pro to see what he’s been up to and were surprised with his answers. Here’s part one of our interview.
How was your summer vacation? Did you do anything exciting during your time off?
“Nah, I didn’t do anything too exciting,” he said. “I went down to Puerto Vallarta for a little bit, but other than that I just kind of kicked back and relaxed. I went up to Wharton too, for the Business Management and Entrepreneurship Program.”
Is that an NFL program?
“Yeah, the NFL puts it on,” Betts said. “They have them at different schools. They have one at Stanford, one at Northwestern University and one at Harvard, and I did the one at Wharton.”
Tell us a little bit about that. If we remember correctly, Renaldo Wynn and some other Redskins players have participated in that program in the past.
“Well, they teach you about different business management opportunities,” he said. “The one I did at Wharton has a heavy emphasis on real estate. It’s like a crash course, basically. You go there for four days from like eight in the morning until like seven at night and then you go back for more later, which I’m about to go back and do in a week or so. They teach you about the do’s and don’ts – what to look for and what to be leery of. How to approach things, how to read financial statements and everything. It’s a good course.”
You hear horror stories about folks making one bad business decision and getting taken for all their money, so it’s cool that the NFL is trying to set you guys up for better success, right?
“Yeah, that’s basically what they’re doing,” Betts said. “It’s a good idea and I’m glad I went. I was a little hesitant about going because I’ve never been fond of school, but I’m glad I went. It’s been pretty fun to go.”
Do you call Virginia home these days? Do you stay in the area during the offseason?
“I do. I do,” he said. “I’ve been living here since I got in the NFL. I bought my house my second year in the league and this has pretty much been home for me ever since.”
We know you had the chance to explore free agency a couple years ago and decided to stay here, but it’s nice to know you consider this area home now.
“I think the D.C. market, just as far as the people and the opportunities, as far as business and stuff away from football – life after football – I think D.C. is one of the hardest markets to walk away from,” Betts said. “There’s not very many places in the United States that have this kind of diversity and business opportunities. There’s so many different people you can network with and I just think it’s a good opportunity for me.”
We hate to state the obvious here, but you know you’re still young, right? You’re only 29 and you’re already sitting here planning life after football.
“I am young, but the thing about football is I think too many guys don’t approach it that way and then the next thing you know your name isn’t on the back of that jersey anymore and now you’re out in the real world and you haven’t made any contacts and you haven’t really tried to establish yourself outside of football,” he said. “For most of us, we’ve been doing this since pee wee league through elementary or junior high or whatever. We don’t know much else other than football. At some point in time you’ve got to branch out and try to make that transition smoother, and that’s all I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to retire from football, I’m just trying to make it so when that day does come I’m not out in the dark wondering what I’m going to do now.”
That brings up an interesting question – what would you be doing with your life if you never made it to the NFL?
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