By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
Former NFL linebacker Thomas R. Williams has created an organization that is perfectly suited to match his unbridled passion to help others.
Called Pursuits of Greatness the nonprofit organization provides free custom suits for collegiate student-athletes so they are well-dressed for their first job interviews.
“The professional business attire we custom tailor is a new uniform for success so student-athletes look the part as they enter the real world,” said the Vacaville, California native, who followed up this enterprise in August by publishing his second book, “The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness.”
As part of this pursuit, the former two-time national champion at USC establishes relationship with universities, who bring him in for a Student-Athlete Player Development Program.
“For instance, I outlined our program to 46 student-athletes at USC who had not had interviews, and soon thereafter 12 of them landed internships leading into the next year,” Williams said.
“The university is at the forefront of giving the suits, a graduation gift so to speak, and we bring it to fruition,” said the former linebacker who began in the NFL as a 2008 fifth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then played with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The process begins with the student-athlete choosing the suit color, and then our tailor takes 35 different measurements to ensure the clothes are custom-made for their athletic bodies, and then after the suits are created, a second fitting is held to finalize the fit, with attention also paid to shoes, belts, ties, and even pocket squares.
“The student-athlete feedback has been incredible, and we all know the ‘look good, feel good, play good” approach, which translates perfectly in this endeavor,” explained Williams, who gained insight into this by attending the NFL Player Engagement’s (NFLPE) Broadcast Boot Camp and also the Career Transition Program at Stanford University.
Most importantly, Williams’ wide range of experiences, which also include being a motivational speaker and philanthropist, served to bolster his belief that student-athlete greatness doesn’t end with the games.
“I have learned that seemingly everyone wants former athletes to work for them since you can’t teach their transferable skills, which include determination, motivation, teamwork, and time management,” he explained.
“The suits are just part of our overall program to give these student-athletes a playbook for life since we recognize how tough transitions can be, but by preparing properly they can take control and be as great off the playing field as they were on it.
“When I see the light bulb go on, and how much they are looking forward to the next step in their lives, then I know they can create the life they want to have,” stated Williams, echoing the theme of his first book, “Permission to Dream, I Can, I Will, … I Did.”
John Ingoldsby is the President and Founder of IIR Sports, Inc. a sports media firm based in Boston. He has covered the NFL throughout his career that began as a newspaper reporter/editor, which includes articles in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine (NFL Player Engagement), London-based Financial Times newspaper (NFL's international strategy), the Philadelphia Daily News (annual NFC Coaches Breakfast) and the Boston Globe (Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll).