By Nikolai Jackson
"I run my companies based on how the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots run things. Those are two people who have a tradition of consistent winning and being able to handle adversity and adapt."
Playing professional football can be a rewarding experience. Making tons of money, playing on the big stage, learning under some of the best coaches but what happens after football? You have to live a life outside to provide for your family. You have to apply what you have learned from playing football and apply it to your everyday life. For former NFL player Landon Cohen, he realized that while playing in the NFL. He had a plan in place. A future after football.
Landon Cohen, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, started playing little league football to gain respect as a man and to begin making a name for himself. Coached by his father, he had to earn respect and earn his stripes. When he started playing football in high school, he and his two best friends started a valet company where they started parking cars for money. They all realized that they wanted to start a company in something that they all had experience in. Bringing something new to a town was met with ire as people there thought they were stealing cars and not operating a business. Landon and his two friends continued to push through the challenges and just five years later in 2012, it has grown into a Light Transportation company, which is a 24 hour a day black car service.
Cohen made a Valet Car Parking service and a Light Transportation company during the time he was playing professional football. He was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions in 2008. He was there for two seasons. After he left the Lions in 2009, he was signed by the New England Patriots in 2010 where he was coached by Bill Belichick. After that, he was signed by a multitude of teams between 2011 and 2014. In 2014, he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks during their playoff run and made it to the Superbowl. Cohen was coached by Pete Carroll while in Seattle and during his time with both the Patriots and Seahawks, Cohen credits learning a lot from them and applying it to his businesses.
"I would write down everything that they said. Not from a football standpoint, but from a leadership standpoint" Cohen said. "I run my companies based on how the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots run things. Those are two people who have a tradition of consistent winning and being able to handle adversity and adapt."
The Patriots understand what they need and they fill that role with key players and talent and it's how they have maintained their dynasty. Cohen says NFL players should study the operations on what they are doing and they apply that to their business. He was aware of his surroundings and took in a lot of information and he says that is a helpful factor in creating a business. Balancing playing football and running a business, however, is not easy as you can imagine.
"I can honestly say, the business did take a backseat because I was making a lot more money playing in the NFL than at the time of the business."
Operating your own business and playing in the NFL gave Landon Cohen the freedom to say "If I get cut, I'll go run my business. I got something going on that's making money and that's how I lived my career after I was cut for the first time, I opened my business and I knew that football was only a means to an end." You have to have a plan in place for the future. Become an entrepreneur or follow a passion that you once had but didn't quite follow. If you don't have a plan in place after your career is over, another tip by Cohen is saving your money. He also says to talk to someone at a bank about your earning power.
"NFL players have a huge earning power and the bank will give them whatever they want based on their income. So with a good plan, you can go to the bank and get whatever you want but the misconception is that you have to use all of your cash, you don't have good credit, they aren't going to let you do these things. So they really need to get good people in their corner. First and foremost is, save your money, stay away from get rich quick schemes, and then start a business to take advantage of the tax breaks."
When starting a new venture, you need to ensure that you have the right people in place in order for your business to start off on the right foot. Cohen did not make millions of dollars like some first-round draft pick might do, but he took what he learned while playing football and applied it to open up multiple businesses. For the future, Cohen wants to be at the cutting edge of transportation while also being a hub for people to get jobs. He aspires to create two or three new businesses a year. He has created a clothing company called VillageClothing with two business partners. He also has a digital advertising company which sells ad space on 9-inch screens on headrests inside his black car service. Along with those two companies, he also has real estate rental properties which he builds and constructs single-family homes and apartments in Spartanburg.
About Nikolai Jackson, Contributing Sports Writer
Nikolai Jackson is from Queens, New York. He graduated with a Broadcast Journalism degree from Brooklyn College. His portfolio consists of covering events from Brooklyn Nets games to the New York International Auto Show. Nikolai watches the NFL, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, F1, and NBA. One day he hopes to work in NASCAR covering the sport that he has watched for over 15 years or MLB covering a sports team.