Atlanta, Ga. --Call it Life After Football 201.
It's where successful professional athletes are learning the ins and outs of restaurant franchising, sports broadcasting, charitable foundations and personal finance. It's where twenty-somethings with 7 and 8-figure salaries hear how to make all those zeros on their paychecks continue to work for them long after their playing careers end. It's where the icons of Atlanta sports learn what characteristics define some of the country's most prominent business leaders.
We're live at the Falcons Leadership and Business Summit, a brand new event conceived and executed for the first time by the Falcons Player Development group (@FalconsU on Twitter). Today's first-ever event of its kind is taking place on the 16th floor of a major Peachtree Road skyscraper, in the offices of the King and Spalding law firm. Among the event's speakers:
Arthur Blank, Owner and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons * Clark Howard, The Clark Howard Show * Brian Billick, Former Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens and Fox Sports Commentator * Don Lemon, CNN Newsroom anchor * David Ratcliffe, CEO of the Southern Company * Tom Noonan, Former Chairman of Internet Security Systems, Inc. * Several executives from Chick-Fil-A
About 50 athletes are currently in attendance, along with some lucky students who were awarded with seats to the event from local colleges, including Emory University, Georgia Tech and University of Georgia.
Emory University's Goizueta School of Business was instrumental in helping plan and conduct the inaugural event.
"The Falcons and Goizueta share the common belief that continued education and development of individuals in the areas of business and leadership can provide lasting benefits at any point in someone's career," said Larry Benveniste, Dean of the Goizueta School of Business. "This is just the beginning of many more opportunities to bring such content to life."
Senior Director of Player Programs Kevin Winston, who heads up an award-winning department that is among the most respected in professional sports, conducted this symphony of life skills.
Winston, a former player himself, knows how important it is to expose veteran professional athletes to prominent business leaders and share with them their leadership and knowledge. This summit is an extension of the well-established and heralded Falcons University, a model NFL program designed to help incoming Falcons rookies acclimate to life as a professional athlete. Where Falcons University is Football Life Skills 101, this business summit is the graduate class designed to get athletes ready for that inevitable end to their playing days.
We'll have a complete wrap-up of this two-day event later in the week (including photos and video), but for now stay tuned to the following three Twitter accounts for updates from the high-profile speakers and sneak peeks at some of the Falcons veterans going through the program, including QB Matt Ryan, WR Michael Jenkins, RB Michael Turner and former Falcon and current minority owner Warrick Dunn.
FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOR UPDATES AND RECAPS OF THE EVENT:
@FalconsU (Falcons Player Programs department, headed up by Kevin Winston) * @FalconsDLevak (Falcons Director of New Media) * @KroyBiermann (Falcons DE Kroy Biermann, one of the players for whom the event was designed)