Together, a U.S. Marine sergeant and a Seattle Seahawks player realized how much they have in common as they discussed their career paths.
Military veteran Jamel Felix has been learning about job opportunities within Starbucks, and Seahawks defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith was among seven players who spent some free time over the past few weeks job shadowing people in various departments at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.
Along with Smith, Steven Hauschka, Russell Okung, Bryan Walters, Greg Scruggs, DeShawn Shead, and Chandler Fenner stepped into the corporate world through a program created by Maurice “Mo” Kelly, Seahawks director of player engagement.
The job shadow program is one of many initiatives designed to offer guidance, education and support for players before, during, and after their NFL experience.
“You never know when you’ll get that phone call and someone tells you to bring your playbook,” Smith says. “The average NFL career is two to three years. Every athlete needs to think about what they would do if for some reason – possibly an injury – they couldn’t continue in their career.”
Smith is building on his degree from Louisiana Tech University by getting his MBA through Drexel University, and is planning for his future after football. He’s not in a rush though; Smith is hoping for a long career with the Seahawks as he sports his new Super Bowl ring.
“Meeting the President at the White House and getting the ring is definitely icing on the cake,” he says, “but there’s a lot of work ahead for the next season.”
Felix has also met President Barack Obama, although the circumstances were far different. He met Obama in Afghanistan.
“I’ve been to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo,” says Felix, who joined the Marines in 1997.
He was a Forward Air Controller and is a current member of the Marine Corps Reserve.
“The military has defined who I am and I’m proud of what I did,” Felix says.
With Starbucks initiative to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018 underway, Felix says, “Maybe I’ll be one of them.”
Smith says he appreciates “getting his toes wet in the corporate world” but still prefers having his feet in cleats. His plan for life after the NFL includes being a life coach preparing young people for careers in professional sports, or possibly pursuing clinical psychology.
“I wouldn’t mind getting another Super Bowl ring or two first,” he says.