By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
Nathan Peterman hasn’t taken a snap in a NFL regular-season game yet, and he already has a lot of the important stuff already figured out.
Then again, Peterman, the Bills’ rookie quarterback out of the University of Pittsburgh, always did.
When Peterman graduated from Bartram Trail High School in Jacksonville, Florida and was highly recruited for his football skills; there was another goal on the young quarterback’s mind.
“When I came out of high school, I looked back at what (former NFL quarterback) Christian Ponder did,’’ Peterman said. “He came out of FSU and did the same thing, and I kind of had that same goal to graduate in three years and then pursue my MBA.’’
And that’s what Peterman did. He played first at the University of Tennessee where he earned his degree in communications in three years and then transferred to Pitt where he earned his MBA from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.
So, while the quarterback was engineering upsets of national champion Clemson, and top-10 Penn State for the Panthers on the field, he was setting up his post-football days in the classroom.
“To be honest I like the business side of the game,’’ Peterman said “I’ve already talked to our player reps here. It’s very interesting for me right now. I don’t know if the corporate life is right for me just yet, but if I could get involved in the business side of our game I think that would be pretty good. When I got my MBA, there was a purpose and that was the thought right there. You always have to have a plan for what’s ahead.’’
It wasn’t easy. And there were some long days and nights that led to where Peterman is today, as a NFL player with a MBA. This was a normal day for him last year at Pitt.
“We were a morning team for practice,’’ he began. “So usually I was up at 5:30 a.m., I’d get to the field around 6:00 a.m. Go through practice, then meetings until about 1:00 p.m. Find some time to eat, then watch film for a couple hours, do homework for an hour, or two, and get to (his business) class by 6:00 p.m. Class was over at 9:00 p.m., so I’d go home, go to sleep, and do it all again the next day.’’
After months of that, this whole rookie stuff in the NFL seems to be a breeze, right?
“I used to say I thought the NFL would be easy, because I treated football as a job and then had to go to school at night,’’ Peterman said with a laugh. “I was in the night program, so I was going to school with people who were probably 10 years older and already in the business world. It was very tough, very challenging courses. It definitely stressed me, but it was good to get a taste of the business world. Some of it motivated even more for football, because football was what I loved to do, but it also opened me up to what real life is and made me work even harder.
“Everything I’ve gone through has made me who I am. All those people who were working jobs and then coming to school, seeing what their lives were like almost kind of modeling mine, working those long hours, those long days. There were certain principles you could learn and I was lucky to learn time management and that helps me now as well.’’
Peterman brings up former NFL players, John Elway, in Denver, and John Lynch, in San Francisco, who have taken their talents from the field to the front office. He could see himself in that role years down the road.
“It would be a pretty cool if that’s what happens,’’ he said. “But I can see myself doing something on the business side when the football days are over.’’
He’ll certainly be prepared for it.