Wednesday, Feb 26 2014 06:00 AM

The Roadrunner Connection: NFL programs help prepare for 'life after football'

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Corey Costelloe

There's no single more gratifying part of my job than watching our student-athletes develop into productive members of society and I've told a few of those tales here.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to come into contact with someone who develops athletes at the professional level on a recent road trip to Kansas City.

While the Roadrunners were in town, I joined our Associate Athletics Director and had the chance to tour the Kansas City Chiefs facility with one of her former colleagues and current Player Engagement Manager B.J. Stabler.

Touring the Chiefs facility along with Arrowhead Stadium was nice enough, but we had a chance also to learn about what B.J. does to help NFL players develop their professional and business interests after football. While many assume that NFL athletes are so well paid that they're "set for life," it's quite the contrary. Many come into the league prior to completing college degrees and while many of the high-profile positions are well-paid, their counterparts in other positions that make up the team are not and must plan for life after football.

Everything from finishing their college degrees to postgraduate work and career-planning is covered by the program and reimbursed by the teams in the league. While we don't hear about that part of the NFL, and most of us are just hearing about what's happening on the field, it's refreshing to learn that life skills aren't just limited to intercollegiate athletics and even the most prestigious league in the land cares about what happens to their athletes once they leave their organization.

We even ran into Chiefs offensive lineman Jeff Allen who was in the process of completing his degree although he's just a few seasons into life in the NFL.

It's real-life experiences like these that should make all athletes more aware that life will go on after their playing days are through. It's not necessarily a backup plan as opposed to a "life after" plan and I applaud the fact that the NFL has made it a priority to take care of the players who have brought their organizations so much profit and prestige over the last few decades. A big thanks to B.J., Ramon and the many other pleasant people I had the chance to connect with while visiting the Midwest.

We often forget that while football is a August-January job for most players, the front office people continue to put in long hours in the offseason, and I'm grateful they spared a few of those hours to introduce a couple of Kern County people to their professional world.

It's good to know that while here at the college level we try to prepare all student-athletes for life after sports that there is still help available even if they're blessed enough to play at the next level. It's also good to know they will be in such capable and caring hands like B.J. Stabler of the Kansas City Chiefs.

COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University, Bakersfield.

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