Players study business at Harvard, Wharton


Wide receiver David Anderson was one of three Texans players to study at a top-flight business school earlier in February.

Earlier this month, three Texans players honed their business acumen in separate week-long programs at two of the best graduate schools in the country.

Through the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, Texans wide receiver David Anderson and right tackle Eric Winston studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from Feb. 16-19. Punter Matt Turk was at the Harvard Business School from Feb. 15-19.

"It was really an unbelievable and priceless experience," Turk said. "I think probably, if I would've had to leave after the first day, I would've said I got my money's worth. Just to see the level of education and the teaching style and the amount of weight that is put on the classroom and the interaction from the students to the professors was enormous."

Turk, the Texans' oldest player at 41, said that he had not set foot in a classroom since 1991, when he was a student at Wisconsin-Whitewater.

"It was a shock going back and doing all the studying," Turk said. "We stayed in the dorms, had the Harvard professors every day; it was pretty intense. It was a lot of information, a lot of really good information. We'd get started at 7 in the morning and usually wouldn't be done 'til 8 at night, and with very minimal breaks."

The NFL sent 78 total players to Harvard and Wharton this year through a partnership with the schools and the NFL Players' Association. The program is designed to improve players' ability to evaluate business opportunities through workshops and stimulating discussions.

"It's a wonderful opportunity," Texans director of player development Sean Washington said. "The league has a lot of programs that these guys need to take advantage of, and I think the business management program is one of the premier ones, especially for the guys that want to get involved in owning their own business. It helps prepare them for life after football."

{QUOTE}The Harvard custom program is designed to expose NFL participants to a broad array of business operations, negotiation, business plan analysis and legal aspects of business.

The Wharton custom program focuses on entrepreneurship and business-building with an emphasis on real estate. Anderson said that he, Winston and the other NFL players in the Wharton program took classes that encouraged them to reassess their views on leadership, negotiations, real estate and entrepreneurship.

"I've spent my entire life basically on Plan A, and that's get to the NFL, but I really haven't had time to assess Plan B yet," Anderson said. "I've spent my last 12 years, more than that, focused on football, and these professors have spent their last 45 years in business. They're the best of Wharton, and the advice they had for us was pretty impressive."

The players took away valuable lessons from their respective programs.

"What was really important was to know that you can be good at anything that you really work hard at," Turk said. "I put a lot of time into football working out and training and getting ready for what I do as a profession, and I think as you look at the next level, what you're going to do after football, there's that same amount of work that you're going to have to put in. But you can do it. Anyone can do it if they just put the time in and they research and they get the information that they need."

In previous years, Texans players including defensive end N.D. Kalu have used the program as a springboard to success in business. Kalu now owns a real estate company and is an analyst for SportsRadio 610 AM and the Houston Chronicle.

"The program works," Washington said. "David (Anderson) pretty much said if he had a chance to do something like this during undergraduate study that he would be a genius. Sometimes, you're not ready for something like this when you're 19-20 years old. When guys mature a little bit, it can work wonders for them."

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