By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
There is a generation of professional football fans who don’t remember the halcyon days of pro football in the District. They only know of the legendary offensive line known as the Hogs that went to consecutive Super Bowls as the Joe Gibbs era began to carve its place in the crucible of D.C. sports history.
Rick “Doc” Walker, one of the legends of that bygone era resonates daily as a host of Inside the Locker Room on SportsTalk 980 where he doubles as the sideline reporter for the team’s broadcast of the franchise’s games. The Super Bowl champion and two-time participant in the NFL’s big show is taking his personal message from the locker room to the classroom while pushing a message of economic empowerment to impressionable college students beginning their post secondary education.
Walker, made his first trip across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to visit Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), and shared his story of leaving the NFL gridiron as a hero and finding a pathway to professional independence once the final whistle blew on his sports career.
“I’m allergic to manual labor,” Walker quipped before an audience that wasn’t born during his years as a pro athlete. “I’m always having fun and have never worked a day in my life.”
Walker visited the PGCC Largo campus for the Financial Empowerment Center, a project of the United Way of the National Capital Region. He shared how his transition from life as a pro athlete and the lessons he gained being a world class athlete helped him develop a game plan for business.
“During your 20’s you should be thinking about retiring in your 50’s,” Walker told the AFRO. “It’s important to navigate your finances when you are young through saving money to take advantage of the compound interest that builds through seven-year rollovers which makes your money work for you.”
The former NFL tight end’s business interests include a production company that created a television show called “ProView.” The 30-minute interview program, which airs on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, has featured a cavalcade of celebrities for more than two decades. Walker is also president of ABC Technical Solutions in Washington D.C.
His success off the field is unquestionable, although the transition was anything but seamless. After retiring from the NFL Walker went back to the grind to be taken seriously by the business community. He shared his plan of hard work and humility where he had to commit to mindsets that were forged on the field, but also play in the boardroom.
Walker believes in the value of “grinding” to work harder than those others and to develop a competitive drive to remain motivated to beat the best performers in their professional lives. He also charged the students to set intermediate goals that serve as life’s scoreboard to gauge whether they are “winning” as they mature. His most profound analogy involves “socialization with high achieve” whose examples and motivation influence success.
“Be willing to compete and to outwork your opponent,” Walker said.
He also believes parents and guardians must take the lead in planting the seeds of financial empowerment, especially in the Black community. The narratives of private family conversation must shift and tough conversations like mental health and finances should replace superficial ones that have no bearing on their success or failure.
“People don’t talk about finances or mental health and that has to change,” Walker said. “We don’t have dinner table conversations about serious issues. It seems like we’d rather talk about entertainment and worldly stuff instead of important things, which is stupid.”