Last week on the campuses of prestigious Ivy League institutions Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, more than 60 current and recently retired NFL players took part in business school workshops to help them prepare for their post-playing careers.
Among the attendees of the program at Harvard Business School was Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. The sack specialist spent three days at the Massachusetts school putting his pass-rushing skills on hold while developing his business skills through a series of case studies and discussion groups.
As part of its custom executive education activities, Harvard Business School has developed a customized workshop targeted to the needs of NFL players interested in owning, operating or building their own businesses. The programs are part of an ongoing NFL-NFLPA initiative, with tuition covered by the NFL's Tuition Reimbursement Program.
"I thought that the Harvard program was awesome," said Gbaja-Biamila. "I'm glad I participated. Any guys that want to do this in the future, I would recommend that they do it.
"But at the same time you've got to go in there knowing that you're going to work. It's a good experience, but if you're not really serious about it I wouldn't recommend you going because if you want to get a lot out of it, you've got to put a lot into it."
Gbaja-Biamila said it took some time to get back into the mode of being a student, and that the three all-day sessions from Wednesday through Friday were anything but easy.
"The first day, I was really overwhelmed," he said. "The second day, it got a little better and by the third day, I had really kind of figured out how to read the study cases and prepare for the classes."
He said that the classroom discussions were really a great workout for his mind.
"It was a very intense experience," said the graduate of San Diego State University. "It was so intense that at the end of the day, my brain would really feel fried. I tried to go work out after the first day, but I had to recover mentally from all the work I had been doing in the classroom.
"I didn't get any physical exercise, but I got a tough mental workout. If you looked at my brain right now, it's probably got some six-packs and some big biceps and cut muscles," he joked.
Gbaja-Biamila said he felt like he was back in school again, having to burn the midnight oil to do more number-crunching than quarterback-crunching.
"It felt like I had to do a whole bunch of all-nighters again," he said. "I had to do a lot of reading every night just to be prepared to go to class the next day. You could go into the classes without reading ahead, but you wouldn't get anything out of it. I wanted to maximize what I could get out of the program."
KGB said it was great to be at such a prestigious place as Harvard, and hopes to take in a little bit more of the campus when he returns next month to conclude the program.
"I learned a lot and I look forward to going back in May," he stated. "I didn't get to see that much of campus because I was so busy in class all day. It was nice, now I can say that I'm a Harvard man."
Gbaja-Biamila wasn't the only Packer, or even the only member of his family, involved in these business school sessions. Green Bay running back Ahman Green and Kabeer's brother, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila - a defensive end for the Oakland Raiders, each participated in the program at The Wharton School on Penn's Philadelphia campus.