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The NFL offseason is a period for a much-needed breather, given some teams are playing football nearly every week from August until February. For some star athletes, it’s an excuse to pick up a new hobby or a chance to try their hand at a possible career alternative when they inevitably hang up their cleats for good.
Enter the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) and their highly competitive externship. For the last seven years, the union has helped players recognize their potential beyond the football field by providing real-life work experience with select organizations. This year, athletes from 25 different NFL franchises took part in the 2020 NFLPA Externship, with the Indianapolis Colts boasting the most participants at six. Partner organizations include ACE Media, Fox Sports, NASA Kennedy Space Flight Center and Fanatics.
“It’s exciting to see the externship continue to grow in a way that allows more and more of our player members to get the experience necessary to position themselves for long-term success in their post-football careers,” said NFLPA Player Manager Connor Ford.
In accordance with the externship, Yahoo Sports spoke with Dallas Cowboys cornerback David Jamaal “D.J.” White about his experience working with Fanatics over the course of this fellowship and some of the things he’s learned so far. For the second consecutive year, Fanatics has also partnered with the NHL Player’s Association to provide the same experience for hockey players as well. Former Los Angeles Kings star and 2012 Stanley Cup champion Ethan Moreau joined White and six other NFL players in working with Fanatics this year.
“I studied business administration in college, so I’ve always had that entrepreneurial mindset and I was excited to able to use that skillset over the course of this experience,” White said.
The Georgia Tech product was selected in the sixth round, 178th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Before joining the Dallas Cowboys as a member of the practice squad in October 2019, White also played for the Indianapolis colts.
When asked whether this process rivals that of his tenure in the league, White was quick to point out that while the two share similarities, there are some differences as well.
“Playing football, my mindset is about being physically and mentally fit. In the time doing the externship, I feel like I’m back in a classroom setting learning the ins and outs of how a business operates,” the 26-year-old explained. “Having a chance to visit the warehouse where everything is stored to working at a store front has made the experience that more memorable.”
Of course, all good things must come to an end and such is the case with the externship. The program ended Thursday, but luckily White accumulated years worth of training in just a matter of weeks to prepare him for next steps. That alone, he says, is worth the arguably short, but intense process.
“I’m excited to use the skills I developed as I pursue my own business ventures,” White said. “It’s definitely been a career highlight.”
The other NFL players working alongside Fanatics: Ross Pierschbacher (Washington Redskins) Montre Hartage (Miami Dolphins), wide receiver Charles Johnson, defensive end Kapron Lewis Moore, tight end Manasseh Gardner and NHL veteran Ethan Moreau.
For years, Yahoo Sports and Fanatics have partnered up to provide exceptional fan merchandise at a reasonable rate across all sports and tournaments. From limited edition jerseys to title-winning gear, the Yahoo Fanatics shop is your one-stop shop for quality team merchandise no matter the occasion.