Erik Coleman, former Safety for the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Detroit Lions has not slowed down since he retired in 2013. From SiriusXM Radio host to building his community, Coleman did not let leaving the NFL slow him down. We had the opportunity to speak with the NFL star about changes in the NFL, philanthropy and a work-life balance.
You’re a coach, a trainer, a sports analyst, a father, and husband. How do you manage your work-life balance?
Balancing the different aspects of my life has definitely been a challenge. I am very fortunate and have been blessed with an amazing wife, who believes in me and supports my career aspirations. Without her support and ability to hold things down at home, I wouldn’t be able to aggressively pursue my work. I found that I have to be extremely efficient with my time and that means sticking to a schedule. As an NFL player, your whole life is scheduled for you. From your workout schedule to your travel itinerary and you know exactly what to expect from day to day.
Once I stopped playing, it was a tough adjustment getting used to having free time. My wife and I found that if we create a schedule together, that would allow us to be on the same page and allow us to limit the miscommunications. We have taken it as far as scheduling in family time!
As a former NFL Star, how has football prepared you for your time out of the stadium?
Playing in the NFL, you realize quickly that you have to be the hardest worker in any room you step in, in order to succeed. The margin of error is very small and when it is time to compete, getting an (A-) on a test will leave you jobless.
The NFL taught me to put my best foot forward in any task I agree to and never be satisfied with your performance. There is always another play coming.
You retired in 2013, how has the NFL changed in your opinion?
Since retiring in 2013, the game has changed in many ways. There are the rule changes to protect the players, which I think is great. Since learning about the dangers of the game, I think the NFLPA and the NFL have taken steps to make the game of football safer. There is less practice time, which allows players to recover from the grind of the season. There are less devastating hits on the field, which may make the game less exciting for the fans, but as a player, knowing how life after football can be, I think it is great for the game. In terms of education, I think the players are paying more attention to life after football, trying to grow their brands while on the field so that the transition from the game is a smooth one.
You are an active philanthropist. Why is it important to give back?
As professional athletes, we are extremely blessed to be role models to the younger generation. We have a big platform to raise awareness for those less fortunate than us. So I think it is vital that we use that platform to help others. I know for myself, it wasn’t easy growing up. If I can speak to a child who is going through some of the misfortunes that I went through and show them that it is possible to overcome the obstacles set in front of you, there is nothing better then that.
Where did your passion for wellness come from?
Growing up in a lower socio-economic background, you aren’t always privileged to have the most nutrient-rich foods to eat. You simply eat what is affordable and what is available to you. And unfortunately, that is processed foods, fried foods, and foods that do damage to your body.
When I met my wife Sabrina, she quickly changed the way I look at what I put in my body. She is Sicilian, and her culture is known to base everything around what you put in your body. Food is the centerpiece of the family. As a family, they always eat together and talk about what each food does to your body. This was something that was somewhat foreign to me.
Once I started eating nutrient-rich foods and getting rid of the junk, I noticed how good I felt physically and mentally. It opened up a whole new world for me. Since meeting my wife, I started to focus on what goes into my body and educating myself on the benefits of good health.
Even though it’s no longer mandatory for you to work out, how do you stay in shape?
Staying in shape now takes a lot of effort. When you have a busy schedule and it no longer pays to stay in shape, you have to force yourself. I found that as long as I stay in shape and stay active, the pain from my football injuries is suppressed.
Nowadays, I kickbox twice a week and try to make it in the weight room to get a full body workout at least once a week. It helps me more mentally than it does physically in my opinion.
What advice would you give to an athlete, before they retire, to prepare them for life off the field?
When I speak to current players, I always advise them to use their off-season and spare time to do internships and try to figure out their interests. It’s also important that they take advantage of the spotlight they have as a current player. Most business owners and department heads would love to give a current NFL player a glance at what it takes to be successful in the business world. It comes down to having an open mind and asking for guidance.
You started your own football camp. What will that camp consist of?
I actually held my first football camp this past summer. It was a non-contact football camp for boys and girls, grades 1-8. We had a lot of fun. I took the kids through agility drills, did some position specific work and played a lot of games. I love getting involved with the kids, it takes me back to a time when I played football strictly for fun and there was no pressure involved. That’s what it’s about to me. In the future, I would like to continue to have youth camps and I would also like to get into speed and agility training, position skill work for high school and college kids as well as hold coaching clinics for high school coaches. I love having the opportunity to share my knowledge of the game of football that I gained through playing at the highest level for several years.
What can we look forward to from Erik Coleman?
From Erik Coleman, you can look forward to a lot of growth. I am still in the process of finding my way. I am trying to apply all of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that helped me make it out of my hometown of Spokane, WA to playing 9 years in the NFL. I am on a different field, but it is the same game and I am just getting started!
Make sure to follow Erik Coleman on Instagram.