By Vince Agnew, Player Engagement Insider
The NFL Business Academy hosted by the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business is nearing its end and a large classroom is filled by 45 current and former players and significant others. Many are looking to be introduced to the different facets of free enterprise, but one couple in particular already has a significant accomplishment in less than a year of business ownership.
Retired 10-year NFL veteran cornerback Jabari Greer (Bills, Saints) and his wife, Katrina, are present for their first Business Academy and they believed that it would be powerful to attend together just as they have done with everything else for nearly a decade.
“Katrina came to me and said that this was something that we should do together as a business owner herself, for her development as well to help point me in a direction that may be of interest,” Jabari explained.
The couple, who live in New Orleans, has been married for seven years and has five children. The first portion of their relationship saw Jabari diligently chase and achieve his NFL dreams—even winning a Super Bowl in 2010 with the Saints.
Now four years removed from the league, Jabari is reveling in watching Katrina plan and execute each step of the way toward achieving her ambitions. Though he may be slightly biased, he said that it has been incredible watching his wife in her element at this challenging academy and come up with all of the best ideas.
Last year Katrina started The French Library, which is a bookstore and coffee shop in New Orleans made unique by its large collection of children’s books in the French language.
It was a fairly easy decision for her to go that route, not only because it is an untapped market, but because of the two aspects that it combined.
Books and the education of children have always been a passion of Katrina’s and something that they have supported as a couple philanthropically. She also has a French background and their children speak French too. These factors along with a direct connection to the large French community in New Orleans created a natural niche.
In terms of business, their start-up is still a baby in its first year, however that baby experienced a major growth spurt since its opening. The store has grown a collection of over 3,000 books, something that brought a smile to Katrina’s face when she said that The French Library now has the largest inventory of French books in the country. The accomplishment is almost as immense as the level of shock that overcame Jabari when it was announced.
“What?” he said with excitement while putting his arm around Katrina. “I did not know that, that is awesome.”
“Seeing how passionate she is about it and how much work she’s put into it, it is 100 percent her vision and work that she has put in.”
Although Jabari does not have a hand in day-to-day operations at the bookstore, he frequents her coffee shop and offers his expertise as a coffee connoisseur—but as for the business itself, he leaves that to his better half.
The two are attending the academy in hopes of growing their success and have enjoyed learning from the incredible faculty and guest speakers including another former player and his spouse, Angelo and Kim Crowell.
Angelo is a former linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills where he was a teammate of Jabari’s. He was invited, along with his wife, to share their story of success with the Jersey Mike’s franchise to the academy’s participants. They own multiple locations and spoke about being by each other’s side every step of the way, similar to the Greers.
“The ability to bring your spouse to things like this boot camp is beneficial because ultimately you’re a team and you have interests that need to be explored outside of the game,” Jabari said. “Being able to explore yourself in your development as a professional along with your wife is something that is beneficial in so many ways.”
“Just being here you realize what a privilege it is to be a part of the NFL with the resources they make available. Not just the players, but the family members as well,” Katrina added. “Being at the academy, I have really been able to fine tune my business and discover new ideas that I can take back to my store. I’m really soaking it all up like a sponge.”
The Greers are enjoying stretching their personalities, motivating and encouraging each other at the NFL Business Academy. It has given them an opportunity to have deeper conversations, talk about overall life goals and see each other in a different light. Together, they know that even greater successes are around the corner and the academy is helping to lay a strong foundation for their future.