From NFL to Entrepreneur: Josh Gordy Gets His Money’s Worth

By Vince Agnew, Player Engagement Insider

First Published on NFLPlayerEngagement.com

In every walk of life there are cautionary tales of people who have valuable opportunity at their stoop, and leave the door unopened. Professional athletes earning hundreds of thousands of dollars every year leave their sport with little-to-nothing to show for it. Music artists who sign multi-million dollar deals are left filing for bankruptcy.

The NFL offers a plethora of opportunities to its players in order to ensure that they do not fall into these statistical hazards. They include networking boot camps, rookie transition programs, internships and transition coaches. Some overlook these chances for growth and others, like Super Bowl champion Josh Gordy, take full advantage. From attending two boot camps to starting a foundation, and a business, Gordy has learned to capitalize on his chances when they arise.

Gordy is a veteran NFL defensive back (Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Rams, Indianapolis Colts), who, if you asked him, probably never envisioned holding the Lombardi Trophy or starting a financial coaching business. Instead, he absorbed the importance of priorities, family, manual labor, and the value of a dollar from a young age.

Growing up in the rural area of Washington County, Georgia, Gordy was forced to mature quickly when at the age of eight he began raking and bailing pine straw with his grandfather to sell locally. At twelve years old, his dad introduced him to shining shoes and spending time at the family business, Gordy’s Barbershop, which is now entering its sixty-third year. At sixteen he picked up on the craft and officially started cutting hair—a business that took off for him. He grew accustomed to this grind of self-employment and gained insight along the way to maintaining and appreciating finances.

When it seemed that he may go the same route as his forerunners, opportunity in football presented itself and would be life changing—first, in high school when coaches Frank “Pop” Lee and Rick Tomberlin saw something in him and he gained significant playing time due to a teammate’s injury. This led to Central Michigan University providing a chance in the form of an athletic scholarship where Gordy would thrive as a four-year starter. The next break in football would prove equally as unexpected.

After going undrafted, and having a brief stint in Jacksonville, opportunity called once again; this time, to the city of Green Bay where a historic run was underway.

“It was a blessing. Going through it you could just feel it was something special happening,” he said.

In his rookie year, the team would become just the second team to ever win the Super Bowl as a sixth seed entering the playoffs. He would spend the 2011 season in St. Louis where he led the Rams in interceptions. In 2012, he landed with the Colts via trade—a place he spent three seasons and says was great for his wife and family and is the birthplace of their son.

Gordy explained that football was the vehicle to advance him in many avenues. He crafted a plan and attended both the Business Management and Entrepreneur Program, and the Personal Finance Boot Camp offered by the NFL.

“It was very eye-opening to get that look into entrepreneurship, which is what the country is based on—business owners,” he said. “It gave a solid foundation on how to run a business and great contacts to reach back to.”

His passion for free enterprise and finances did not start nor finish there. Two months ago, Gordy partnered with another financial coach and friend, Dedry Johnson, to start Smart Money Network. The company is geared toward educating people more likely to be touched by financial struggles—especially young adults, young professionals, and single mothers.

“I look at a lot of our people, myself included and it’s just not something that we are taught growing up at home—it’s not something we talk about,” Gordy explained. “That’s my mission really. Trying to change that. Lets get people talking about it. The quicker you start and the better financial foundation you have, makes it that much easier.”

Gordy was inspired when he read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, which was given to him by his college coach, Tim Banks. He also noted that following financial guru Dave Ramsey was a big influence. Gordy is currently going through a financial coaching class to add more tools to his arsenal. “We always hear, ‘save your money, save your money.’ Okay I’m saving money, but now what?”

Everyday, people enlist the expertise of fitness coaches, someone that will look to hold clients accountable daily, promote personal growth, and answer the question of “But, now what?” Gordy serves the same role financially, granting clients unlimited access to his services and guiding them through their financial journey.

“We make a strategic plan that’s unique to every client,” Gordy said. “It is 20 percent head knowledge and 80 percent behavior, so I really work on changing that spending behavior.”

He went on to say that, “When you touch someone and give them hope in their financial life, it touches every other area of their life—just because your finances touch everything you do on an everyday basis.”

He is in the business of touching other areas of lives beyond finances as well.

Right now his 14-year-old nephew, Nolan, cannot walk. He was diagnosed with Hemophilia, a bleeding disorder that affects one in 5,000 males and is a lack of the protein that starts the clotting process. In 2012, Gordy saw the opportunity to support his nephew and educate individuals, communities, and legislators on how to effectively care for those affected. He started the H.O.P.E (Hemophilia Outreach Plus Education) Foundation—also another way to put his money management expertise to work. Three scholarships are given each year through the foundation to applicants who perform a community service act educating others on the hemophilia.

Regardless of the way that opportunities for personal or financial growth manifest, it takes a proactive attitude to fully grasp them.

“I always said if I made it to the NFL that I wanted to use that platform to get a voice out there about something,” Gordy said. “I wasn’t one of those guys who knew I would make it, but when I did, I wanted to use it in the right way.”

Driven by the circumstances that surrounded him, his upbringing, and love for family, he was compelled to take advantage of his chances and help others do the same.