MBA Alumni Spotlight: Eddie George – Former NFL Star

Eddie George

Eddie George is a true renaissance man. A triple (possibly quadruple) threat whose Midas touch has graced the disparate fields of professional football, Broadway (as Billy Flynn in “Chicago”), sports commentary, and wealth management, George is a testament to how far dogged determination, resilience, and a little moxy can take you.

After nine years with the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys, George pivoted to a career as an entrepreneur with George Enterprises, an umbrella brand that encompasses a number of ventures, including Edward N. George Wealth Management, landscape architecture firm EDGE Group, health and fitness magazine EGX Lifestyle, and domestic abuse nonprofit Visions with Infinite Possibilities.

When pressed about his staggering array of accomplishments, George told Rolling Stone, “To put yourself in a box of, ‘Well, I’m only a football player and I’m just going to stick to being in sports somehow,’ you’re not living a full human being experience.

We took a closer look at the life and career of America’s favorite polymath to understand how George parlayed his skills on the field to so many different outlets.

Early Life and Education

To say George was obsessed with football as a youngster growing up in Philadelphia would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. In the aforementioned Rolling Stone profile, George recalls that the game was an anchor, a vector, and a lens through which he saw the world. “High school football. Little league football. Backyard football. Thanksgiving football. You name it. It was not only a passion, it was life. It was also a vehicle for me to pursue my dreams.”

George earned a scholarship to Ohio State after rushing a record 1,372 yards in his fifth year at Fork Union Military Academy. Over the course of three years at Ohio State, George surpassed and set new school records and generally continued his reign on the field. In 1995, George was recognized as a first-team All-American and won the coveted Heisman Trophy, which remains one of George’s most significant achievements. He explains, “To win the Heisman gave me the resolve that if I put my mind to it, I could do it. It taught me a valuable lesson of what can be accomplished.”

An Illustrious NFL Career

George’s nine-year career began when the Houston Oilers (currently Tennessee Titans) selected George in the first round of the 1996 NFL draft.

George’s record suggests a reliably brilliant player whose excellence is surprisingly overlooked: a ’96 Rookie of the Year Award, four consecutive Pro Bowls (1997-2000), and one Super Bowl appearance, in which George tallied two touchdowns in a nail-biting 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

After eight seasons with the Titans and one with the Dallas Cowboys, George retired in 2005. In a 2009 Kellogg School of Management profile, George spoke openly about the realities of what he could not fathom up until his very last season: a life, post-football. “Nine years goes by like this. And if you don’t take care of your money, you’re out on the street. It’s a scary feeling. You ask yourself, what’s next?”

At The Northwestern Kellogg School of Management

After retiring from the NFL, George was determined to find a way to keep moving forward but after 20 years immersed in the game, that was easier said than done, as George explained in 2009:

“I had to find something that was going to fill that void of putting my jersey on on Saturday and Sundays. One was my identity. Two, was figuring out what I would do next. Three, I had to ask myself what I was going to the next 60 years of my life to make money to maintain my lifestyle, to grow and build, and to take care of my family financially.”

George was brutally honest about his state circa 2006 in an interview with SB Nation: “To wake up and not know what you’re going to do with your time because you can no longer do the one thing that you’ve been doing your entire life, it’s daunting.”

As George explains in a Winter ’09 Northwestern Profile, “My celebrity status definitely helped open doors, but that will only take you so far.” After a few successful years at George Enterprises, he opted to attend Kellogg to “broaden and deepen his understanding of the business side.”

George was thrilled at the opportunity Kellogg gave him to reinvent and brand himself away from football. He explained in a Kellogg profile that he chose the school because of its reputation.

“Like on the football field, if I’m going to be the best at something, I’m going to learn from the best coaches, the best teachers. Kellogg resonated because of the strong branding and marketing emphasis.”

George graduated with an Executive MBA from Kellogg in 2009.

Edward N. George Wealth Management

After graduating from Kellogg in 2009 and receiving his securities agent and investment advisor licenses, George almost immediately considered how to use his business acumen in service of his fellow athletes. He told ESPN, “When I came into the league, I didn’t understand all the financial terminology. I lost some money in personal investments that I shouldn’t have. I want kids coming out of college to be more prepared for the financial side.”

George partnered with Greg Eastman, his own personal financial advisor of over two decades, and Scottsdale-based First Financial Equity Corp, to found Edward N. George Wealth Management—a boutique financial management firm that helps athletes get their finances in order via estate planning, tax planning strategies, retirement, and income planning.

Wealth management was a homecoming of sorts for George as it brought together a number of his diverse interests, according to a previous interview with the Nashville Post: “My life’s mission is entrepreneurship, entertainment and education. The wealth management firm is both entrepreneurship for me and education for the players.”

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