It was hard for Quincy Enunwa to watch.
The Jets wide receiver missed the 2017 season while recovering from surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck. Enunwa was coming off a breakout 2016 in which he led the Jets in receiving yards (857) and touchdown receptions (four) and tied for second in catches (58). He was placed on injured reserve Sept. 1 and was forced to observe the game from the sideline and home.
“It was difficult. It was one of the hardest things for me,” Enunwa, 25, told Newsday. “It was also really good for me to see how much I missed the game and also really how much the game doesn’t have to be my life. It also made me realize I need to find out what else I love. That’s partly why I choose to do this.”
What Enunwa did was think about life after football, which he plans to play again this season. He took part in an externship program through the NFLPA along with other NFL players to learn about how businesses work. Enunwa, the Jaguars’ Ben Koyack and the Vikings’ Josh Andrews worked with StubHub the last three weeks to learn all aspects of the company.
“Never realized how much goes into a business like this and how many different areas there are,” Enunwa said of the San Francisco-based company, which sells tickets to events around the world. “A lot of guys feel like ‘I haven’t been in school for a while,’ so you get discouraged. If you have skills, a lot of the time they teach you. If you’re willing to learn, you can have a job.”
Enunwa said he learned how to make Web pages, deal with customers on the Web and manage employees. The program isn’t about teaching the players how to become CEOs, but more about the day-to-day aspects of a company with the goal of moving up.
NFL players are so consumed with their “athletic” job that a “real” job doesn’t get presented to them until they’re retired. The majority of players might be in their 30s when that happens. StubHub is partnering with the NFLPA for a year-long paid fellowship program that will help retiring NFL players morph into their next careers. That program officially starts later this year.
Such programs can help players make the transition to the next phase. Players not only worked with StubHub but also with the Los Angeles Police Department and Lyft and on Capitol Hill.
“It’s an opportunity for players to get some business experience with a bunch of different businesses,” Enunwa said. “A lot of us don’t really get that opportunity. We go from college to the NFL and it’s not really a chance to get some real work experience.”
Enunwa said the last non-sports job he had was at a car dealership in college at Nebraska, when all he had to do was move cars. Now he has an opportunity for real work, networking and learning the inner workings of a major company.
“Building connections, you want to get something out of it,” he said. “I tried my best to make an impression here. If [my NFL career] lasts 15 years, that’s great. If not, you want something to fall back on.”
Enunwa said he is “on track” to return for OTAs with the Jets.
Much like his plan for life away from the field.
“If you have skills, a lot of the time they teach you. If you’re willing to learn, you can have a job.”
— Quincy Enunwa