Brandon Copeland has a game on Tuesday. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Coronavirus be damned. That’s when the first in a series of webinars Copeland has created begins for fellow NFL players in which he’ll offer life advice that includes time and financial management.
It’s fitting the class Copeland teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, is called “Life 101,’’ because in more ways than most professional athletes he has life figured out.
Copeland is a 28-year-old linebacker who recently signed with the Patriots after playing the past two years with the Jets, and he’s anything but one-dimensional. His “seasons’’ are not confined to the window in which NFL games are played, because Copeland is all about giving back and paying life forward.
Thus, the creation of the series of webinars, which are free for all active NFL players.
Copeland is determined not to let this period of sheltering in place because of the coronavirus crisis leave his peers confined to an existence of playing video games by day and watching Netflix by night.
“We should try to look at this as an opportunity to get better,’’ Copeland told The Post. “That may be by auditing ourselves, going through bills, getting things done, finding little pockets of money and coming out of this stronger in terms of having a better investment plan.
“The benefit of having me be the host is they’re talking to a brother when they’re talking to me. You can dwell on the negative of this [crisis] or you can come out of it better, because years from now, some people will talk about having made money or becoming the person they are out of the coronavirus pandemic.’’
Copeland, who graduated from Penn’s Wharton Business School before entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013, has never relied on football to define him. He had the game taken away from him in 2017 when he tore a pectoral muscle and was out of football for a year before signing with the Jets in 2018 and resuscitating his career, producing his best season with five sacks.
So, Copeland knows better than most that there are no guarantees in sports, particularly in the NFL, which is commonly known to stand for “not for long.’’
He recently reached out to the NFL Players Association with the webinar idea and it was embraced so emphatically that he’s since been in contact with both the NBA Players Association and the Major League Baseball Players Association to offer his services.
“When I pitched this to the [NFL] Players Association, I told them this is an opportunity for us to be a resource and a support system to our guys during this time,’’ Copeland said. “If we’re not doing that, then what are we here for?’’
Copeland said he’s already had fellow players reach out to him on a one-on-one basis, asking questions about how to invest in stocks and when they should be investing.
“So, let’s have a conversation together with everyone,’’ he said. “It’s also going to help people understand who’s like-minded around the league and also will help initiate more conversations in their own locker rooms about this stuff. This is just me doing what I do and keep pushing the conversation forward and keep connecting people.’’
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Copeland said ultimately, he’d like to open the webinars up to the public.
“A lot of people rag on athletes who’ve gone broke, but it’s not just players, it’s people,’’ he said. “People see athletes go broke within a few years of retirement. But my neighbors might be doing the same thing, they’re just not in the news.’’
Copeland said Tuesday’s opener “will be more of coronavirus-related check-in and about what we can do to better ourselves to we come out of this stronger.’’
“That can be estate planning or having a grip on an investment plan or something as simple as reading some books and getting some things done that you always wanted to get done but didn’t have the time,’’ he said.
In the subsequent webinars, he will address real estate, stocks, taxes, accounting, entrepreneurship and small business.
What’s in it for Copeland?
He’s being paid a nominal “honorarium’’ by the NFLPA, but the motivation, at its core, is purely altruistic.
“For me, this is about connecting with people who are like-minded and spreading the word, spreading knowledge,’’ he said. “I’m taking an hour of my time to do what I’m already doing, what I’m passionate about, and sharing the information. I personally believe that there’s a tie between stress and mental health issues and not being where you want to be financially.
“So, to have the platform I have as an NFL player and to have an opportunity to help people become more confident in that is something that I don’t take lightly. That’s what I’m in it for. This is life.’’
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