Ex-NFL Cornerback Robert Nelson Jr. Advocates Athletes’ Entrepreneurship in Rookie Year

In the fast-paced world of professional sports, athletes are often faced with their playing careers coming to an end the next question is ‘What is Next For Me?’ For former NFL Cornerback Robert Nelson Jr, who started his lifestyle company in 2009, called ‘Broke Billionaire’ and would later be changed to Oautica Wave in 2015.

The reason for the name change according to Nelson Jr, he met with a multi-billionaire undisclosed mogul in New York City listened to what he had to say, and took advantage of the situation. There were roadblocks set up to make it difficult before the business could get off the ground originally. However, following the name change Robert never looked back.

The former Baltimore Ravens’ cornerback recently shared with PlayersTV why he wanted to be an entrepreneur and specifically in fashion.

” I always wanted to start my own clothing line and always want to have my own signature shoes. I wanted to stand out, and I always wanted to be different. And I always knew I was different. I have always looked up to Deion Sanders and I was always aware that he just had swag. It just took me to another place mentally man,” said Nelson Jr.

“And, I figured that I could be one of the best players in the league, one of the best entrepreneurs on and off the field and always keep my name relevant to build something for my family. So that’s really, the main part about it, man.  It was been an aspiration that I have always had to be better than I was yesterday.”

For any creative ideas are sparked because an individual feels that they can make a better product than what is current on the market. Robert is no different.

“Once you play this game, you have a different feel than people who didn’t play the game. You understand what it’s supposed to feel like when in the game as footwear, clothing, spandex, and compressions. People can design anything they want, but they’ll never understand how it feels to be in the game after you’ve been tackled by someone. And you have to re-adjust your whole bottom area, private area, or if your sleeves didn’t roll down and there is grass all in your sleeves. I like to take these things into consideration when I designed things. Let’s just take arm sleeves for example, I stopped wearing them because when you tackle someone, you must re-adjust them after every play. That could lead to grass getting in your sleeves and potentially getting on your gloves. Causing you to possibly miss an interception because they are slippery. It could also cause you to miss a tackle assignment in the open field,” shared Nelson Jr.

“So, one of the things I did with my compression sleeves was add a sticky jell at the end of it, so it sticks to your skin. It’s just little details like that. Telling myself, If I were to make this, I would make it this way. When designing my cleats, I wanted to make them as comfortable as my shoes. A lot of players like comfortable cleats as well, and you want them to feel as tight on your feet as possible. It is your foot and don’t want it to be loose to where you’re sliding in and out of your feet. As a cornerback, or a special teamer, every move that you make is so important. If your cleat is loose and you slip, you could tear your ACL, which can cause you miss the season.  I take pride in creating cleats that are locked to your feet. Now, when it come to off the field, I design my shoes to be more comfortable. I design them with memory foam insoles, and take my time and cover every detail to make more appealing than the other brands on the market.”

Later this month, rookies who were draft in last month during the 2024 NFL Draft, will participate in the annual NFL Rookie Symposium. The programs helps incoming players get acclimated to life in the NFL and covering a variety of different topics.  For example, understanding the league expectations for their professional athletes, benefits that they can earn, and other league resources to set them up for success. The full list can be found on NFL.com.

“This collaborative effort permits the league to educate players about the tools and resources available for a successful playing experience on and off the field,” said Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL executive vice president of football operations. “The Rookie Transition Program allows the clubs to orient all rookies to local resources and to club culture, history, leadership and expectations.”

Nelson emphasized with PlayersTV, that if he was asked to speak at this year’s NFL Rookie Symposium, he would focus on the importance of being a business owner, and self-sufficient. Something he wished he would of done in his first year as an undrafted player with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

“I recently had  a conversation with Trent McDuffie right hand man. He actually played with me at Arizona State and was a great athlete in his own right. Actually a family member of his that helps with some of his business affairs, and we were talking about the Oautica Wave Cleats. During the conversation, I shared with him that I was recently in Dick’s Sporting Goods engaging in some market research and comparing products. He responded by saying it was crazy that you do this type of stuff.

“I said it is the behind the scene work that customers don’t get to witness, and I wish I was engaging in these type of business practices during my first year in the NFL. Instead of trying to sign endorsement deals with Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour. Then he asked me why and I explained to him, I had to learn the hard way. Once the Houston Texans cut me the year leading up to my $40 million deal, Nike dropped me the following day. Instead of the mandatory two week grace period sign with an other organization. It is all a business partnership and Nike is a sponsor of the NFL. I told myself, I was wearing their apparel and providing free marketing, meanwhile I had the means to fly over to China in the offseason and invested into my own apparel. Allowing me to potentially generate $500k to a million dollars in revenue promoting my apparel. Once you are in the NFL performing at a high level and meeting benchmarks in your contract, your peers are going to want to follow suit.”

He would end the interview by stating that you are a business once you come in the league. The minute they hand you that jersey with your name of the back, that is when you need to start marketing yourself. During his six seasons in the NFL, Robert Nelson Jr. Played for the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, and New Orleans Saints. He also played a couple more seasons in the AFL and XFL and elected to retire three days before reporting to training camp in the XFL. He decided to follow in Nike Founder Phil Knight footsteps to pursue his brand dreams in Asia.

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