For many NFL players, real estate is a career worth tackling
In football, a competitive drive and strong work ethic are key to success. No wonder players turn to careers in real estate, which requires similar traits.
- Players with the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys are among those who have gone from the NFL to real estate.
- A desire to win and the ability to work as a team are fundamental to football — and translate well to a career in real estate, making it an appealing option as players consider their next move.
- While many players-turned-agents expressed a passion for real estate, they acknowledge that success doesn't come easy.
When the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs take the field for Super Bowl LVII this Sunday, there's a good chance a few of those players may put that passion and competitive drive into a future career in real estate.
While the right football contract can set up a player financially for life, the reality is the average career in the NFL lasts only 3.3 years. Once their time on the field comes to an end, some players look for a new competitive outlet — and many are finding it in the real estate industry.
Take former NFL cornerback Morgan Trent, who played for three years with the Cincinnati Bengals after being drafted in 2009. One of the highlights of his pro-football career came in November 2009 when he deflected a crucial pass from the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, leading to an interception that helped Cincinnati clinch the AFC North.
While playing in the NFL, Trent would pursue his other passion of real estate in the offseason.
After his football career ended, he continued to work in real estate part time, and fully committed to a career as an agent in 2019. He initially felt overqualified, but realized that success in the luxury real estate market was very rare, which brought out his competitive nature.
"I instantly wanted to dominate that market and make a name for myself," Trent said in an email.
And he did just that, establishing himself in the luxury real estate market where he serves a range of celebrity, athlete and CEO clients, including NBA star Russell Westbrook, who bought a Brentwood property last year for nearly $37 million.
Trent said he wasn't sure where his love of real estate originated, but he does remember as a young child being infatuated with beautiful homes. To this day, walking into a stunning home with a client continues to bring him joy.
When asked why he thought so many NFL players gravitate towards real estate, Trent said they know what hard work looks like.
"Selling real estate isn't rocket science; however, it does take a special hustle, a special grind, and a special work ethic in order to separate yourself from the tens of thousands of agents in your local area alone," he said, noting that there are more than 60,000 agents just in the Los Angeles area.
In January, his Southern California team Trent Luxury joined AKG | Christie's International Real Estate.
Teamwork crucial to 'getting the job done' in football — and real estate
While a competitive drive can help an agent succeed in real estate, the ability to work as a team also translates well from football.
Brent Celek, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles as a tight end for 11 years and retired after the team won the Super Bowl in 2018, discussed the importance of teamwork in both football and real estate in a column he wrote in 2019. After leaving the Eagles, Celek helped found Pando Mortgage and now owns and operates Brent Celek Real Estate in Media, Pennsylvania.
"Attention to detail is a critical component of what it takes to win," Celek wrote. "And in both worlds, you need to be a great teammate. I can't stress that enough. I've tried to bring a team atmosphere, and the mentality that it takes everyone working together to get the job done, to my real estate company," said Celek.
Current NFL players sometimes get into the real estate game as well. While regularly making headlines as a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks this season, Tyler Lockett also generated some media attention after helping his teammate and fellow wide receiver Penny Hart buy a home.
While playing in the NFL and doing deals on the side as a licensed agent has kept Lockett busy, he told reporters last month that there are some similarities in both jobs.
"The cool part with me being a [Seahawks] captain for my first year, it's like you have to learn how to sacrifice, and even if you think that this might be the best deal, you have to be able to understand that not every person that's your client might see it the same way," Lockett said in an interview with Seattle's KOMO News.
"So, you have to be able to learn to meet your client where they're at. You have to learn how to give them the run-down of everything, and it works the same way with the team," Lockett said.
Balancing the workload and putting in the hours
When Matt Overton, a long snapper, was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, he decided to get his real estate license in Indiana. But as he was making the career transition, he got another chance at football: The Tennessee Titans took an interest in his skills, signing him to a contract in 2020.
That year he played football and closed on three homes during the season, all in the middle of the pandemic. In an interview with the NFL players association, Overton talked about juggling his football and real estate responsibilities.
Now with the Dallas Cowboys, Overton said that being in real estate that season was particularly difficult because he wanted the client to feel he was present and they were a priority, even while playing football.
"It was really just all about structuring my time and constantly staying in communication," Overton said.
Luxury agent Trent agrees that being successful in real estate requires focus and a commitment to work hard — even if it doesn't require the same type of intensity as a contact sport.
"Seriously, it's tougher than the TV shows portray. Getting a stranger comfortable with you selling their most precious asset isn't easy," Trent said.
"Don't get me wrong, real estate can be an amazing profession that can afford you an amazing lifestyle and can be very lucrative, but it takes time — and you are going to earn every penny."
Write to Dave Gallagher.