Friday, April 26th – The air on campus was lively and celebratory as NFLPE welcomed 30 players and spouses to the first NFL Franchising Boot Camp in scenic Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Ross School of Business. Named for Miami Dolphins owner and real estate magnate, Stephen M. Ross (a University of Michigan alum), the Ross School is also home to Professor Francine Lafontaine – one of the foremost academic authorities on the franchising business model.
After arriving from all over the country to attend the program, players and as another PE first -NFL spouses - settled into the evening and gathered into the sleek and architecturally stunning business school to learn about things to come over the weekend from Melanie Barnett, Chief Executive Education Officer and Professor Lafontaine, who painstakingly crafted the program along with the renowned International Franchise Association (IFA). During introductory remarks from the NFL, players were encouraged to take risks and network heavily during the event; soaking up as much knowledge as possible.
The evening took hold when Owner and Founder of the 29th NFL Franchise, the Carolina Panthers – Jerry Richardson walked into the audience to share his sage wisdom and amazing story of rising from an NFL player following his 1959 World Championship with the Baltimore Colts (with just $5,000 in winnings) to the rarefied ranks of NFL Owner. Mr. Richardson parlayed his initial prize money into an empire of hundreds of Hardee’s franchises, which would eventually become a holding company he named Spartan. That very company would also make history as thefirst South Carolina company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange…a tactic he used to inspire and invigorate his employees about the importance of their jobs and value of self.
Mr. Richardson, displaying true Southern humility and generosity, took time for questions, photo ops, built relationships and inspired the very players and spouses he holds dear before returning to his own team and owner responsibilities during the hectic 2013 Draft Week. The Panthers’ Owner left attendees in utter awe of his legacy of honorably weaving business and athleticstogether along with his own unwavering ethos and high-value of “treating people with respect, running your own business, continuously inspiring your employees daily and choosing the right spouse/partner.”
Franchising has been a hot trending topic in the pro sports business news section recently with landmark franchise purchases from Peyton Manning (Papa John’s), Troy Aikman (Dunkin’ Donuts) and other pro athletes. The NFL created the program to meet growing player interest in the world of franchising – and from a duty (as with all professional development events) to provide education on the space and give players the best tools and resources possible to succeed. As with all other aspects of entrepreneurship – franchising is by no means a guarantee in the business world – but PE felt that Gridiron greats were up to the challenge; given their intelligence, drive and systematic ability to follow complex playbooks to gain the wins. Read more