NASA Partnerships Could Help NFL Players Find Second Careers


There are lots of former NFL football players where we know exactly what they’re doing these days. And then there are others that hang up their cleats and then sort of wander into standard American careers selling used cars or buying a Chick-fil-A  franchise. But in the end, a lot of them have the same problem – their sole focus has been on the game for so long, what do they do now?

Well, some members of the NFL Players Association might have more post-sports opportunities due to a 2-year partnership it has recently launched with – believe it or not – NASA, designed to help the two groups advance cutting-edge technologies.

The idea is actually pretty simple. Professional football players, if they’re smart, exit the league with a  decent amount of cash in their pockets, and the players' association says their members are showing increasing interest “in engaging in technology start-up businesses as the basis for their second career.”

So, the partnership works like this: When NASA researchers invent or develop a technology – think of past projects such as GPS, memory foam, or digital camera sensors – the agency is required by law to transfer the tech to the private sector. In the case of the partnership, NASA plans to hold “technology transfer workshops” to present ideas to the former players, perhaps resulting in the players licensing them for their start-ups or establishing “collaborative partnerships” with NASA.

And while the two-year pact could help structure second careers for the former players, there’s a lot more at stake: NASA says 1,800 spin-off companies have resulted from its technologies, which support more than 14,000 jobs. When it comes to tech developed for the health and safety sector – including heart pumps and parachutes – NASA and its partners have saved an estimated 440,000 lives.

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