Jaguars veteran offensive lineman Maurice Williams enjoyed his trip back to college two years ago so much that he has decided to return again. Williams is one of 95 NFL players to enroll in the 2009 NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, an initiative designed to assist players for their post-playing careers. The program is a joint partnership between the NFL, the NFLPA and the country's most elite business schools.
Williams is enrolled in the workshop at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007, Williams attended classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business as part of the program. The program at the Wharton School focuses on financial analysis, entrepreneurship, stock market investing, risk management and community reinvestment with an emphasis on real estate. The program is delivered in two three-day modules beginning March 1-4 and again from March 30-April 1.
"It's invaluable information," Williams said. "It's information that is very practical. You get a chance to talk with your instructors and the instructors are people that are actually in the field and have been successful at their respective trade. They are teaching us right from their life experiences."
Player enrollment criteria include level of education, professional business experience, interest in starting, owning, or managing a business, and leadership and community involvement.
In addition to the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, other workshops are held at the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern) and Harvard Business School. Since the program's 2005 inception, 407 players have participated in sessions at the four business schools.
Jaguars running back Alvin Pearman (pictured far right) is enrolled at the Kellogg School of Management. The program focuses on developing and selling a brand and evaluating franchise opportunities.
Williams enjoyed the format at Stanford and is looking to broaden his knowledge in March.
"It will help answer some questions I have about finance and real estate," Williams said. "This is a good opportunity to get many of my questions answered and learn some new things that I never thought of before."
Williams has a strong interest in real estate business and is using each offseason to get "a little more knowledge" of the business world. He was an intern at Merrill-Lynch in Jacksonville during the 2005 offseason.
To prepare for his classes at the end of the month, Williams was sent a packet of information and will spend time completing all the required forms and reading online over the next couple of weeks. During the follow-up session in late March, attendees work on directed as well as individual real estate, entrepreneurial and personal finance projects during the month between the program's two sessions.
Williams, 6-5, 302, is in Jacksonville preparing for his ninth season in the NFL after being selected in the second round of the 2001 draft. He was placed on injured reserve in 2008 after suffering an injury in the season-opener at Tennessee. He is looking forward to his time in school, but knows his place right now.
"I'm just positioning myself for the future," Williams said, "just taking it one step at a time. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself and lose focus on what's in front of me. I am just making sure I am preparing myself but at the same time not taking away from what I am concentrating on right now, which is playing the game of football."
The toughest part of the experience will be attending classes without his family.
"It's a pretty intense three days," Williams said. "It's not just getting away for a weekend and going on vacation. You are in school. It's tough being away from my wife and two kids. It pulls on the heartstrings."