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Poppinga Explores Business School


Linebacker Brady Poppinga is about as obsessed with the game of football as any player in the Green Bay Packers' locker room.

But Poppinga is also a realist, and he knows he won't be able to play the game he loves forever.

That's why he took the opportunity last month to enroll in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, attending the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for four days to study, among other things, commercial real estate.

The program is part of an ongoing NFL-NFLPA initiative to help prepare players for their post-playing careers, and more than 500 players have taken part since the program's inception in 2005. There's also an annual program at Harvard Business School.

Poppinga chose Wharton because of his interest in real estate, something he's become intrigued with while learning about the collapse and ongoing recovery of the nation's economy. The Wharton program featured 10-hour days of lectures, group discussions and case studies. They were long days, to be sure, but very informative.

"There were a lot of great minds there that have a lot of great insight and knowledge to share with you," Poppinga said. "It was just like going to school, but turned up a few notches because you're in class pretty much all day.

"It was very gratifying because it's not like you're studying for a test you want to get a good grade on, it's more you're studying for your own information, your own benefit."

Packers director of player development Rob Davis participated as well, attending the Harvard program as a way to explore and review it, and ultimately inform more players about it and what it has to offer.

"I thought it would give me some valuable information I could bring back to the players," said Davis, a former player himself. "The program is set up to educate players on financial things as well as entrepreneurship, and it asks all the questions players need to be asking before they place their earnings into a business venture."

Davis re-connected with Poppinga when they returned to compare notes, and he believes Poppinga's testimony will help inform players and encourage them to take advantage of the program in the future. Green Bay fullback John Kuhn also has enrolled in the program two different times previously.

"Brady feels that every player is able to benefit from the information you can receive, and that's powerful when you get a guy in your own locker room to convey that," Davis said. "I think the most proactive guys get the most out of it.

{sportsad300}"Players are proactive as far as preparing for their football careers, training and getting a scholarship and those things. But sometimes they fall short in being proactive as far as going back into society, and most players will end up back in the workplace at some point. It's important to get the most information we can to these guys."

Poppinga hopes to continue his education in commercial real estate by tapping into some contacts he's already made in the industry to shadow them at times and see some of the ins and outs of the business.

Off the field, Poppinga also has a keen interest in broadcasting, which he sees as a way to stay involved with sports when he's done playing. He co-hosts a local radio show, and a couple of years ago he went to NFL Films and spent two days working on an NFL Network show.

Real estate hasn't usurped broadcasting as a top interest but rather complements it now, and even though his personality is such that he usually gets fully immersed in whatever he's currently doing - like football - he believes the opportunities will be there to pursue both fields when he's done playing.

"If you're not following through with all your passions and interests, you're just cutting yourself short of what you could truly become and who you really are," Poppinga said. "I think you should never do that. You should keep every door open and keep all the possibilities in the future in play and the way to do that is pursue your interests the best you can."

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