Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford—those are just some of the names that have made Athletes' Performance their off-season training home before their respective pro drafts. At AP, they work with first-class trainers, tone their bodies, eat right and prepare for life in the National Football League. But behind the scenes, these athletes are also working on their personal brands and media skills—a service provided by 180 Communications to every NFL rookie combine athlete who comes through the doors.
Matt Ryan told us before his combine that he never thought of media training as a business opportunity. Hawaii's Mike Edwards, Jr. found out first-hand what a positive personal brand means to him. After leaving Tennessee, Edwards moved out west to repair his image and his game, and he's spent every second over the past few years working on his personal brand.
"When I was able to work with you to find my own personal brand, it really gave me a visualization of who I am and what I stand for," says Edwards. "I was able to simplify my inner self into common everyday words/terms. Heading into the Combine, the things I learned are teaching me to not over complicate my thought process as well as what I am trying to accomplish. In other words, I'm not making it hard on myself now."
Virginia's LaRoy Reynolds, who is also training at Athletes' Performance, says he now understands the importance of becoming the CEO of his own brand: "I can recall those commercials with NFL athletes growing up and the positive image it gave me of them. I want to create the same positive impact. Looking more into the industry, it's critically important to me to be marketable, because it leads to a great image and building relationships with the right people. Once people notice you being genuine, respectful and keeping a positive image, they tend to work with you more."
Peg Iralson, director of public relations and production at Athletes' Performance, says, "I believe it is important for us to offer branding and social media education for our athletes. Many people view the media as manipulative and untrustworthy people. It changes their entire experience with the media once they learn how to use media engagements as vehicles to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. It is an absolute game changer. They no longer feel vulnerable, and they understand they are in control of all interviews."
The sessions at Athletes' Performance are broken into two categories. The first hour is spent talking about personal brand and social media pitfalls. During the second hour, the athletes are taught how to prepare themselves for NFL Combine questions and making sure their answers positively promote their brand. NFL scouts, GMs and coaches are about to make a large monetary investment in these athletes. So when they have their 15 minutes at the Combine to show what they are made of, they need to take advantage of it by doing the following:
- Be honest. The NFL knows everything you have ever done before. If you've ever been in trouble, if you have kids—whatever you've done, they know. So don't lie about it. 'Fess up and quickly focus on the positive.
- How badly do you want this. One of the first questions scouts ask is how badly do you want to play in the NFL? They can quickly tell the difference between a player who lives, eats and breathes football and one who can take it or leave it.
- First impressions make a huge difference. This is the ultimate job interview. Would you go to an interview in sweats or in a suit and tie? Matt Ryan chose the latter and blew everyone away. Look like you mean business and you will be taken seriously
Learn how you can start becoming your own CEO.
Photo: USA Today Sports