Article written by: Stan Friedman, CFE
PAFI Advisory Board Chairman
March 28-30, 2012 will personally be remembered as a few very special days for me. Michael Stone and I got to fly down to Marco Island, FL, to present PAFI to the NFL Former Player’s Association, during their Annual Convention. So, I could go on and on about the host resort, the food and beverage and the general buzz of the experience, all of which was incredible. That said; it all took a back seat to what was the REAL thrill of being there. Now, before you get ahead of me on that front too, yes, it too, was exciting to see and meet some of the legends of the game that until now, I had only ever seen on ESPN, FOX, CBS or NBC. No, the REAL thrill of this experience transcended all of that too. No, what I will long remember as the takeaway from this trip was the incredible respect and camaraderie that exists among these guys and their families. I can think of no other place where I have seen anything else like it, but for the glue that held cops and firefighters together, following 911. I guess that alone, made it more than appropriate for the day’s keynote, to be delivered by retired FDNY Chief Richard Picciotto, who actually authored the book, “The Last Man Down” and who was actually the highest ranking fire fighter to survive the attack.
The culture that Captain Picciotto described in his talk is synonymous with that which I experienced throughout my couple of days at this Convention. Like the firefighters, these former players are a very tight, proud and exceptional group of professionals. For me, the thrill of watching games now, will pale, in comparison to the memory of actually meeting some of these guys and experiencing the love that they share for one another. My special thanks to Cornelius Bennett, Chairman of the NFL PA, Former Players Board of Directors for his hospitality and to Nolan Harrison, Senior Director of Former Player Services at the NFL for this powerful glimpse of the NFL, through the eyes of the talent, both past and present. This experience makes me all the more proud to be involved in the work that we are doing together, through PAFI. Similar too, is the bond that we share as professionals in franchising, when we all get together each year for the IFA.
Michael and I were joined at this Convention by Miriam Brewer of the IFA and Tyoka Jackson, who has so generously been contributing so much of his time and energy to our efforts. We were all very warmly received by the players and the association’s leadership. Hopefully as more and more athletes become franchisees, the blend of our cultures will become even stronger, as many of them are actually able to involve their spouses and kids in the next game, where the new and exciting playbook is that of FRANCHISING!