Some of you may know Eddie George as a former Heisman Trophy winner out of Ohio State. Others may know him as the hustling lawyer Billy Flynn in the Broadway musical Chicago. No one knows the former Tennessee Titans running back as a partner in the financial management firm Edward N. George Wealth Management. Having retired from the NFL in 2006, George has been a busy man since lacing up his cleats on the gridiron. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment isn't getting his MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management in 2009, campaigning for former US President Barack Obama in 2008 or getting a role on Broadway - it's his dedication to helping his fellow athletes manage the immense amount of wealth earned throughout their playing days. Eddie George is one of the few athletes who do an incredible job of spreading financial awareness to their fellow athletes.
After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1995, Eddie George was drafted 14th overall by the Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) in the 1996 NFL Draft. That season he won the NFL Rookie of the Year. He would go on to have a 9-year career in which he accumulated over 12,500 total yards and 78 career touchdowns. He became only the second running back in NFL history to accumulate over 10,000 rushing yards and never miss a start. An NFL running back's career is one of the shortest on average in the league on a position-by-position basis, which ultimately lead to his retirement at the age of 32 (and this is one of the longer careers you will see at the position). George's #27 was retired by the Tennessee Titans and he was honored with an induction into the team's Ring of Honor as well.
When people hear the word "retirement" they automatically think a person's work is done and they can kick up their feet. Eddie George did everything BUT that. After retiring from the NFL is when he got busy. Using his own experience as guide, George recognized the need to support young athletes in today's professional sports,
"Everything I do has a purpose and passion behind it," George said. "When I came into the league, I didn't understand all the financial terminology. I lost some money in personal investments that I shouldn't have. I want kids coming out of college to be more prepared for the financial side."
This prompted him to return to school and get his MBA from one of the top programs in the country - Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. George then partnered up with his financial advisor of 20 years, Greg Eastman, and First Financial Equity Corporation, which is a wealth management company out of Scottsdale, Arizona. Together, they would form the Edward George Wealth Management Group. George wasn't about to let other people do the dirty work either - he went ahead and secured his Series 7 and 66 license so he could officially offer financial advise to others. The unique aspect of his firm is while they seek to recommend and manage investments, they have no access to the funds themselves, nor will they actively pursue the rights to make investments on behalf of players through Power of Attorney.
Eddie the Entrepreneur
Eddie George's wealth management firm isn't his first crack at starting a business. He is a silent partner in the landscape and architecture firm, The Edge Group, which has operations in three cities. He has licensed his name out to a series of restaurants and sports bars in the Columbus, Ohio area, which have been quite successful. Outside of his entrepreneurial activity, he has gotten roles in plays that include Shakespeare in Nashville and the aforementioned Chicago on Broadway. He also is available for speaking engagements which focus on motivation, purpose and financial management.
"My life's mission is entrepreneurship, entertainment and education," George said. "The wealth management firm is both entrepreneurship for me and education for the players."
Eddie George is one player who has taken his life experiences and has chosen to use them to help others. He speaks about vision and goals to young players, things he wasn't educated on when he was drafted into the NFL. George has openly discussed mistakes he made when he first starting receiving paychecks from the NFL, but now he has players focused on the next act of their lives, not the next day. What does life after the NFL look like for these young men and women,
“I wanted to do something that gave me the freedom to still pursue my acting endeavors, but also, I can build a business. And wealth management was the next best thing because now I can help other athletes from a ‘cradle to grave’ model from the time they come into the NFL [and] certainly thereafter maintain/sustain their wealth, but also give them insight into finding their next passion, their second act,” he said.
Former NFL running back Eddie George is just one player who is working hard to spread financial awareness to others who will walk a similar path. Unfortunately, he still has a long road ahead of him. According to statistics, 78% of retired NFL-players end up broke or under financial stress after their playing days. It's a staggering number considering the amount of immense wealth earned while playing professional sports. Eddie George's Wealth Management firm isn't a gimmick or some make-money-quick operation. It's addressing a genuine issue with athletes, especially NFL players. It's still early days to determine if he can bring that number down and have a positive effect on athletes when it comes to financial awareness. However, it's a step in the right direction.