Life in the NFL is short-lived more often than not. For many players, having a plan for what happens after they hang it up is just as important as working hard on the field.
The 23 rookies the Oakland Raiders signed this offseason had a chance to think about the future during their trip to Google headquarters. The tech giant reached out to the team and its rookies to talk about branding and life after football.
Oakland’s 2019 fifth-round pick Hunter Renfrow shared his excitement of getting the Google tour, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez:
“You see Google and you bring it up on the computer and you’re like, ‘All right, that’s Google,’” said fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow, a former Clemson receiver. “But you don’t realize there are actual bodies, there’s buildings, there’s people that work there. It’s not putting a face to name, but a building to a website, so that was cool.
“… At Clemson we were exposed to a lot of this — they did a good job of exposing student-athletes … to life after football because football is not going to last forever, and just knowing that there is more stuff and that football is not the end game.”
Part of the reportedly three-hour tour included the rookies giving their knee jerk reaction to photos of great athletes. Although this included the likes of Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and Kevin Durant, the focus was largely on the NFL’s own Juju Smith-Schuster.
Smith-Schuster was used as an example for the power of personal branding. Heading into his third season, he has amassed nearly one million followers on both Twitter and YouTube. Google employees praised Smith-Schuster for his wide-range use of social media.
The power of social media can be great for many. For undrafted free agent Ronald Ollie, he has already had a moment of fame. Ollie found himself starring in Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U’ in 2016. After a visit to Google, Ollie sees ways that he could prepare himself for a football-less future:
“Someday, you never know what happens,” Ollie said when asked if he could really see himself working at the multinational technology giant. “You always want to enjoy these types of experiences. You never know what you could get out of it. You just pay attention and you just learn as you go.
“But I’m definitely getting a YouTube channel.”
Ollie is already pushing 100,000 Twitter followers. With the help of Google, perhaps he and his Raiders teammates can climb the social media ladder. Being on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ this year should help as well.