Heisman Trophy winner, All-Pro running back, entrepreneur, sports analyst, philanthropist, teacher, author, actor, husband and father are all words used to describe Eddie George, who has excelled just as much off the field as he did on the field during his time at The Ohio State University and in the NFL.
Influencer (INFLCR) founder Jim Cavale caught up with George at his son’s football practice at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville to discuss winning the 1995 Heisman Trophy, and advice for others, including the 3E’s of his post-football career (entrepreneurship, entertainment, education) and his four pillars of life: the physical, the spiritual, the emotional, and the social.
Ever since walking on campus at The Ohio State University, the social pillar – who you surround yourself with – has been a key for George. A native of Philadelphia, George moved from Abington High School to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia before his junior year. At OSU, similar to his time at Fork Union, his playing time was sparing until his final two seasons.
He says surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is one of the most important, especially in today’s culture of social media. It also plays perfectly into how he became the Heisman winner, an NFL great and all that has followed.
“The social really defines who you are, whether you have mentors that are older than you, wiser than you, more money than you, more knowledge, or you’re mentoring someone else,” George said. “There’s a give-and-take you have to have. You have to be a conduit to receive knowledge, wisdom, and information and giving your mistakes and so forth and filtering that through to someone else.”
As a senior in 1995, it was a core group of teammates which pushed George to set the Buckeyes’ single-season rushing record with 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns to win the Heisman, what he calls the greatest team award given to an individual and a title that is forever.
“I was fortunate enough to be around a great group of guys that worked extremely hard and pushed me every day and challenged me every day,” George said. “We would compete on a daily basis … That competitive environment helped me win the award.”
George was drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers in 1996 and played eight seasons with the Oilers and Tennessee Titans, including the Titans’ Super Bowl appearance in 2000. By the time he closed his NFL career after one season in Dallas, George compiled 10,441 rushing yards and 68 touchdowns.
From day one though, George knew his career would come to an end. That is why he returned to Ohio State to earn his bachelor’s in landscape architecture in 2001. He began his first business in 2003, his eighth season in the NFL, as co-founder of landscape architecture firm EDGE.
“I wanted to use my celebrity, my status, and my network to help me develop a business and build an enterprise and become an entrepreneur,” George said.
In today’s world, he knows that celebrity status includes social media – a tool George says must be managed by filtering your content to make sure it’s authentic and true to yourself.
He says he has uses his 3E’s approach (entrepreneurship, entertainment, education) to pursue his life after ball.
“The real game was after the game – the game of life, and how you survive and how you evolve … I had to spawn out into areas that, first of all, I was passionate about, second, I could be great at, and third, [provided an] income.”
Today, he remains a silent partner at EDGE and is working on building his wealth management business, while growing as an actor and continuing to teach at OSU’s Fisher College of Business. He has also co-authored a book, with his wife, Taj, on God-centered marriage, titled “Married for Real.” He says his main focus though is “being a dad, being supportive, being an attentive husband, trying to be a good person every day.”
He recognizes that building a successful life after sports can be difficult for some because the results aren’t as instant as they are in football.
“Often what is happening is guys get discouraged, and they say it’s not working,” George said. “The key is to stay persistent at all costs. That’s the driving force -- persistence and faith. You’ve got to walk with that, and you’ve got to have a strong faith in God, a strong spiritual will to get you from point A to point B within the next level of your life because you’re not going to see the small victories often. You have to continue to see that dream in your mind when it’s not tangible.”
George, who will turn 44 in September, says his biggest piece of advice, whether to athletes trying to make it in sports, or those who are now trying to make it in life, is “walk your path and trust God more.”
“I can always give various examples of what to look out for ... but I wouldn’t be who I am without those mistakes,” George said. “Trust God more. As you go through those times, trust God more. As you reach the pinnacle of yourself, trust God more. When you go from one career to the next, trust God more. When you don’t see what’s happening around the next corner or next step, it’s murky and you don’t know what’s happening, trust God more. It’s there for a specific reason.”
About Jim Cavale, INFLCR Founder & CEO:
Jim Cavale has been an entrepreneur since college when he co-founded a sports TV/Radio streaming network for his university, and then created a product to sell to other universities to help them stream their sporting events. Since then, Jim has exited multiple businesses, most recently selling his equity as President of Iron Tribe Fitness after more than six years in which he helped lead the brand from one gym in Alabama to more than 40 gym locations across America from Seattle to Miami. He is a three-time INC. 5000 entrepreneur who has recently founded two new emerging brands in the GLOW beauty on demand app and the Influencer SaaS product that empowers brands to partner with their brand ambassadors on social media. Jim is a published author with Entrepreneur Press, has spoken on stages of all sizes and publishes content regularly at http://JimCavale.com
Follow him at @JimCavale on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.