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NFL Officiating Academy offers fresh perspective for former players

By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider

After completing the NFL Officiating Academy in early March, former NFL cornerback Aaron Beasley walked away with a new level of appreciation for the highly scrutinized, and demanding job of an NFL official. As well as a fresh perspective on career building.

“I was eager to learn and see the game from a different perspective,” said Beasley, who retired from the NFL in 2005 after eight seasons with three teams (Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons). Friends who attended before me had positive experiences and suggested I try it.”

During the three-day workshop, Beasley, and other former players, learned about the various aspects of officiating, including film study, and took part in officiating a game.

“I had the opportunity to referee a game during the experience. I was behind the play as a back judge. Initially thought I had to get in there on the play and see what’s going on but that’s not the case as an official. You really want to keep your vision on the whole field,” said Beasley, who concedes the nuances of officiating were more involved than he imagined.

“I was excited to be on the field again,” he said. “So, I was probably over-doing my duties as a back judge (laughs). I thought I was playing free safety instead of officiating. Officiating is a tough job. The game is fast and there’s a lot going on that you have to watch. Seeing it from that perspective makes you realize the job is pretty tough.”

Since retiring, Beasley has primarily spent his time being a self-proclaimed “Mr. Mom.” He and his wife, Umme, the head gymnastics coach at Temple University, are raising three daughters, Amirah, Dahlia, and Layla all of whom play sports - tennis, field hockey, and soccer, respectively. All of the girls run track.

When Beasley is not chauffeuring his daughters between practices and attending their events, he focuses on two things: training athletes in the South Jersey area and working with the local business community to help other former players cultivate their post-playing career game plans, including his own game plan to showcase his filmmaking abilities and create content for networks.

Beasley has navigated through the challenges of launching and scaling businesses and would like to help other former players who find themselves in similar situations come together to advance their ideas. Whether that’s by connecting them with people through networking alliances or encouraging them to participate in NFL Player Engagement programs just a former player encouraged him.

“The NFL’s player development programs give us a start. Then we have to go back home to our communities and use what we’ve learned locally to keep going,” said Beasley who also participated in the NFL Broadcasting Bootcamp.

“Programs like these help us recognize just how much business and sports are tied together in terms of leadership abilities,” Beasley said. “A lot of what I heard from coaches is the same as what a business leader would say, things like shared values, time management, and trust. There were so many things instilled in us as athletes that translate in business.”

One of Beasley’s aspirations is to build a sports academy. Over the years, he has recognized a need to give kids more options to occupy their time.

“I’ve been around the country training kids in urban, suburban, and rural areas and what I see is a difference in access,” he said. “There are great athletes in urban and rural areas, but they seem to lack access to anything positive.

“I would like to build an indoor facility where kids can have access to sports year-round and access to educational tools through a computer learning center where they have tutoring and can learn about careers and sports at the same time. I want kids to be able to compete in the classroom just as well as the field.”

“I think sports puts you on a track of discipline and leadership, time management, and attention to detail,” Beasley said. “I tell kids all the time, use the goal of getting to the NFL as a dream. To make it to the NFL you have to lead a good life and follow the rules. That is going to serve them well no matter if they actually make it to the NFL or not.

“I love passing what I know down to the next generation. It’s all about these kids using their athletic ability to get scholarships. They can always be around sports working with a college degree.”

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