By Vince Agnew, Player Engagement Insider
The NFL’s Personal Finance Boot Camp wrapped last week with almost 30 current and former players, along with their significant others, completing a rigorous course organized by the league’s Player Engagement Department.
This year’s camp featuring TD Ameritrade, the University of Miami and others, was particularly special for LA Chargers free safety Jahleel Addae, and the significance was only amplified by the past month’s developments.
The fourth-year pro, who went undrafted out of Central Michigan University, was preparing to enter the new league year as a free agent. He made the call to register for the financial course and just days later the Chargers offered him a life-changing four-year contract extension.
“Coming from where I’ve come from, working and grinding to make it to the point of receiving the blessing of a four-year contract extension—it’s like [the financial boot camp] was a sign from the good man upstairs,” Addae explained.
A chief component for Addae wanting to attend the NFL’s week-long course was to be surrounded by knowledgeable people in the field, learn ways to hold himself accountable financially, and absorb information on creating generational wealth.
“There have been a lot of speakers that have come in and done hands-on things so that we can actually take grasp of it,” he said. “The camp has been awesome and I’ve learned a lot from it. I’d advise a lot of guys to come join.”
Although the workload was heavy, he admitted another key luxury in attending the event is the comfort provided by the league.
“Man, I’m on Ft. Lauderdale beach, in prime location with an ocean view room,” he said as he scanned the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.
“We’ve had dinner on the beach, good quality food and they keep us full in the classroom with snacks. They’ve taken care of us at no expense. The NFL did it right with this one.”
Love Thicker Than Blood
Education, gourmet meals and a luxury resort were not the only components adding to the allure of Addae’s oceanfront stay.
Raised on the priorities of family, God and education, he relished in the NFL allowing the accompaniment of his girlfriend, Lindsey, and father, Freddie, who is a vice president of Citi Bank.
“Every step he makes, he keeps me involved,” Freddie shared. “That’s means a lot as a father. He always includes me and that is why I am here.”
The four-day trip only offered a glimpse into the strength of Addae and Freddie’s bond. Special handshakes and hugs were often scattered throughout the week as they embarked on the learning experience together and sat side-by-side at each meal.
“Him being here and taking time off of work to spend time with me while I better myself means so much,” Addae said. “He works at a bank and he’s good with finances but it actually helped him to sharpen his tools too.”
“[Jahleel] is gaining an awareness of the enormous responsibility of having this kind of money, making sure he understands what it means, and how to take care of it,” Freddie said. “I should know enough so that I can provide knowledgeable guidance.”
The classes forced attendees to scale the challenging heights of financial comprehension. They served as a reminder to Addae of how far he has come but also how far he still has go in order to reach his desired destination.
Good Isn’t Good Enough
On the first full day of the finance camp, while others inevitably hit the snooze button prior to breakfast, Addae had already completed his first weight-training session of the week by seven o’clock in the morning. With limited time before the opening class, he left the resort’s weight room and hit the beach to blaze paths sprinting and backpedaling through the sand at sunrise.
Each day at the close of the camp, many attendees and their significant others made dinner plans—Addae packed a bag of gear and, joined by his girlfriend, went out to the nearest football field.
The reasoning behind that is clear.
“Its what got me here,” he said simply. “I haven’t done what I feel like I can do yet. I haven’t accomplished anything.”
He grew up in a home where both parents worked extremely hard to provide for him and his three siblings. Each had two jobs at one point in time, a feat that the three brothers and one sister still cannot understand.
So, it is not hard to understand that the apple did not fall far from the tree with Freddie and Jennifer’s youngest boy, Jahleel. While in South Florida on one mission, he combined the opportunity to work towards another.
“I know there is another level, another notch deep down in me that I’m trying to find,” he explained. “Every day to be able to live the life that I live, I get to do that because of my work ethic. What I put on the field on Sundays is only a small fraction of what I put in.
“I know it’s a blessing and I never want [God] to feel like I’m taking it for granted.”
Hesitant to use the word ‘proud,’ Freddie could only say that he was extremely humbled trying to explain the emotions he feels when reflecting on his son’s accomplishments.
“He is highly motivated,” Freddie said. “He is eager to learn, and he doesn’t mind asking for help. He is very hard on himself and doesn’t settle. Jahleel always feels like he can do more.”
With the things that Addae once dreamed of becoming a reality, he relies on the fundamentals that were instilled in him from his youth and the examples set for him by his father, mother, brothers and sister.
He now has a foothold on the game he loves, the journey that it has led him on, and the blessing that comes with it. From the crowded recruiting pool of South Florida to going unnoticed in the NFL Draft, he vows to continue pouring into his mental and physical development one bucketful at a time.