Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2006Kellogg School of Management
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NFL, Kellogg team up for championship executive program
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Gale Sayers signs autographs
Football legend Gale Sayers signs autographs for NFL players attending a Kellogg executive education program. From left, Vaughn Parker, Dennis Norman and Pierson Prioleau  Photo © Rich Foreman

NFL, Kellogg team up for championship executive program

It's not their standard strengthening regime, but it is intense training designed to increase power and strategy.

At the Kellogg School, National Football League players hit the books instead of the field as they tackled what is a new challenge for them: business education.

The NFL and NFL Players Association formed a partnership with Kellogg for part of the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program. The March 5-8 session offered the athletes a customized executive education program, focusing on developing and selling a brand and evaluating entrepreneurial opportunities.

"The Kellogg executive education program for the NFL has an entrepreneurship theme, but with an emphasis on marketing," said Professor Steven Rogers, the academic director of the program and director of the Kellogg Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice. "We want the players to learn how to market themselves and manage their personal brands."

The players brought their perspectives to class discussions on topics taught by Kellogg faculty, from negotiations to brand management.

"They are yearning for knowledge, they're engaged," Rogers said. "The average age of the group is 27, yet these individuals are worldlier than the average 27-year-old because of the wealth they have acquired. They are often approached with entrepreneurial investment opportunities. This program teaches them a foundation to evaluate those."

Three guest speakers provided extra muscle to the program: Gale Sayers, professional football hall of famer; Gary Fencik, former Pro-Bowler; and John W. Rogers Jr., chairman and CEO of Ariel Capital Management LLC, shared their expertise with the application of brand management and franchise opportunities.

Sayers spent his career with the Chicago Bears and was the youngest player ever inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Today, he runs a world-class technology company and a premier minority-owned business.

Fencik's visit to Kellogg was a homecoming for the Class of 1985 alum, who now is head of business development for Adams Street Partners in Chicago.

— Romi Herron
©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University