The National Football League will devote four days to teaching players how to run franchise businesses, with Carolina Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson, who built an empire of 800 restaurants from one hamburger stand, as the key speaker.
Richardson, a former Baltimore Colts receiver, built a Hardees operation into more than 600 restaurants and 200 Quincy Steak Houses. The seminar in April is the most recent in a series designed to help players adjust to life after football. Others have been on broadcasting and the music business.
“There are many parallels to success in business and football and the opportunity to provide whatever insight I may have to this select group is appreciated,” Richardson said in a news release.
The program is also the first that’s open to players’ wives, who often end up managing franchises while their husbands play, according to Troy Vincent, NFL vice-president of player engagement. It grows out of the league’s effort to provide players with information on how to leverage their NFL careers in the job market after they retire from football.
“One of the things we’ve been doing as a department is really trying to identify the career paths and interests of the body of players,” Vincent said in a telephone interview. “We want to make sure we have excellent quality, and it’s a tangible career path.”
Vincent, a former cornerback with teams including the Philadelphia Eagles, said about 50 players or spouses would study business plans, real estate, bookkeeping and other topics during the four days with professors and experienced franchise owners in lectures and working groups.
The boot camp is scheduled for April 26-29 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, named for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. It’s being run in conjunction with the International Franchise Association, the world’s largest franchising organization with 825,000 members.
Steve Caldeira, the association’s president, said the program offers a path to business ownerships for current and former players.
“Franchising is a proven, structured and very scalable business model that can result in predictable return on your initial investment,” he said in the release. “Despite the recent economic downturn, growth in the franchise sector has continued to outpace growth in other businesses.”
Richardson, 76, played in 1959-60 for the Colts. He has been the only owner of the Panthers, whose first season was in 1995.