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Willie Green: From Two Time Super Bowl Champ to External Affairs Vice President

Engagement Insider

NEW YORK, NY December 6, 2013 – During his nine years in the National Football League (NFL) as a wide receiver, with the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and with the back-to-back Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos, ESPN anchor Chris Berman referred to him as “Willie, the Color of Money, Green.”

Today, Willie A. Green is the Vice President of External Affairs & Government Relations for World Acceptance Corporations, one of the largest small-loan consumer finance companies in the United States and Mexico.

Green has always been involved in politics, civic advocacy and social change.  As a native of  Athens, Ga, now he and his family resides in Shelby, NC. His parents were actively engaged in social change and politics.  “I’ve was interested in politics and social change long before I decided I wanted to play football,” said Green.  During his youth, he would watch his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie and Corene Green, work with citizens in his hometown of Athens, civic leaders and elected officials to resolve issues and challenges facing the community. “My parents believed that being at the table, inside the rooms of power was extremely important if one wanted to be an agent of change, particularly when advocating on behalf of the disenfranchised and less fortunate.” said the former wide receiver.

His mother, who received the Key to the City of Athens, also taught him the lesson of making sound life choices. “My parents taught me the importance of making decisions based upon what is right, as opposed to what may be popular or expedient.”  He also believes that “making choices based upon what’s right will benefit athletes and people in general, in the long run.” Green held on to this mantra throughout his college days and his career in the NFL.

He also continued to follow politics during his undergraduate days at the University of Mississippi and during his tenure in the NFL.  His interest in politics was so strong that his former teammates while playing with the Carolina Panthers called him, “the Mayor of Shelby.”

“I considered entering into political, social advocacy and civic engagement as a natural progression of my passion and interests,” said Green.  He continued, “When you love what you do, it isn’t work in a traditional sense, it’s more of a calling and purpose.  It’s what I do.”

When Green played football, he held a similar outlook on the game, “Football was what I loved.  I loved the commitment, the discipline, the practice, the team environment, the self sacrifice.”  He’s utilized the outlook and the lessons learned while playing football to influence financial sector public policy in legislatures throughout the country, including the United States Congress.   As the Vice President of External Affairs & Government Relations for World Acceptance Corporations, Green is tasked with outreach to elected officials, civic leaders and community organizations to advance the public policy agenda of his company and to educate them on what his company does.

“In a locker room, you have to cultivate good relationships and trust.  Your teammates have to know that you are disciplined, organized, focused and driven by a desire to succeed by fighting with them to win” said Green.  “Those work habits and professional character traits translate well in the political arena.” 

Green’s post NFL career has taken him throughout the nation and he’s met with a diverse cross section of people in his efforts to advance his company’s public policy goals.  “The locker room prepared me to meet and relate and understand diverse people.  It taught me to listen, analyze and how to contribute to an overall process.” Green continued, “It also taught me the value of messaging and how to reinforce and advance a message and goal. As a player you learned how to work with the media regarding your performance.”  Green has put those lessons to good use as he continues to travel the nation in his current professional capacity.

When asked about the current state of the NFL and today’s player, Green stresses not only the importance of performing well on the field, but also paying close attention to the off the field requirements of an NFL player and most importantly, completing ones formal education.  “Obtaining a college degree is critically important especially when you’re talking about your post NFL life.”  Green, attended the University of Mississippi, and completed his undergraduate degree at Gardner Webb University.  “When I entered the NFL Draft, I was 30 hours shy of completing my degree.  Upon finishing my NFL career, those missing 30 hours of college credit were a barrier to my ability to transition fully and climb the corporate ladder.”  Said Green, “I had real world experience, but I met a glass ceiling that I couldn’t break without obtaining my degree.  So I decided to return to school fulltime in 2011 to complete my college education. Once I did, I got the offer from World Acceptance Corporations to be an Executive Officer in the company.”

Green would counsel every college player who may be considering entering the draft, as well as current NFL players to complete their degree.  “It’s a small window of time that you’re in the league.  The degree lasts a lifetime and your post NFL career will last 4 or 5 times longer than your time in the league.” 

Green also believes that the NFL and NFLPA are making strides in providing life skills resources to current players and in provide post NFL career resources and opportunities to retirees.  “I think the NFL is headed in the right direction.  I would encourage league leadership to continue to engage former players to help improve resources and opportunities and enlist them to serve as mentors to today’s players,” said Green.

“I enjoyed my NFL experience and I enjoy my post NFL career as a governmental affairs executive just as much.  I hope that the number of former players entering into the field of governmental relations and external affairs increases.”  Green continued, “It’s a natural fit.”

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