Skip to main content

Ravens Host Inaugural Business & Entrepreneurship Summit for Current and Former Players

Ravens Business & Entrepreneurship Summit
Ravens Business & Entrepreneurship Summit

For many players, it's hard to think about life after football. It's inevitable that a time will come when a player leaves the locker room for the last time, exiting one stage of life and moving on to the next stage of their career.

But how does someone make a career outside of everything they have ever known?

The Ravens have long worked with players to help them with that transition, and now they're taking it a step further. On Saturday, the team hosted Ravens Legends, current players, and their families for the inaugural Business & Entertainment Summit at the Under Armour Performance Center.

There were two different panels, a Baltimore Business Panel featuring local leaders and Ravens Legends Panel featuring former players who have already made successful post-career transitions. The event was capped by a career fair and networking opportunity for participants. The idea came from Ravens Director of Player Engagement Jameel McClain (a former Ravens linebacker) and Senior Manager of Legacy Engagement Matt Little.

"At the Summit, we wanted to give players the chance to enhance their legacy – learn from industry leaders, network and establish relationships with various local and national employers to further develop career and professional development opportunities," Little said. "Whether they are currently playing or retired, it's never too early, or too late, to do these things."

Among the dozen attendees were former Ravens Jermaine Lewis and his wife Imara Stotts-Lewis, Keith Washington, Jordan Richards, Travis Taylor, Javin Hunter, David Pittman, Marcus Smith and Mike Willie. Current players included nose tackle Michael Pierce, linebacker Josh Ross, and rookies Kyu Blu Kelly and Malik Hamm.

Lewis, who is best remembered for his 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Baltimore's 2000 Super Bowl XXXIV win, found the Summit to be an "A+ experience" and resonated most with the Baltimore Business Panel. The conversation featured representatives from some of the city's most influential companies such as Ledo Pizza, Medium Rare, FX Studios and David S. Brown Enterprises.

"I felt like I could go back and learn more about business and then proceed that way. Just hearing the stories, it was great success stories up there to take motivation from and I'm just kind of looking forward to going out there and trying to reach bigger goals from the good people that I learned from today," Lewis said.

The former wide receiver/returner's wife could tell the session had an immediate effect on her husband.

"It's one thing when I tell him something, but to hear it from them was, I was like, 'I told you these things' but it was different for him," Stotts-Lewis said. "I could see the level of excitement on his face where I could see he was motivated, I could see that he was taking it all in, I could see the change, I could see the difference."

The second panel of the day was comprised of former Ravens players who have already launched successful post-football careers: Brendon Ayanbadejo (Orangethory Fitness), Chris Carr (senior attorney at Murray Osorio PLLC), Matt Stover (Players Philanthropy Fund), and Anthony Weaver (Ravens Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line).

Keith Washington, who blocked a pivotal field goal in the Ravens' 2000 divisional playoff win in Tennessee that was returned 90 yards for a touchdown, was especially touched by words from Weaver.

"His number one thing he was saying was 'Just let me in the room,' and if you get the opportunity in the room, then the rest is on you," Washington said. "You've gotta be prepared, you've got to be ambitious, you've got to be forward-thinking. So, when he said that, that is my theme song moving forward, just let me in the room. Whether we're talking about football or the real world, just let me in the room.

"It has really changed my outlook, just changed my state of mind. It's actually given me a new sense of being and I can't wait to actually get back and start preparing for it."

As one of the oldest players on the team, hearing how his former peers navigated life after football is especially pertinent to Pierce.

"Being a guy who's 30 years old, older in the league, going on Year 8, it's important to start to process those things after football and obviously the earlier you do that the better," Pierce said. "You never know when your career is ending … and these opportunities don't come every day. Football ends for everybody at some point, and this is life-changing information for free."

Football most recently ended for Richards, who retired in 2021 after three seasons in Baltimore and not long after welcoming twin babies to the family. The career fair that capped off the event provided the former safety with the opportunity to network with several local and national businesses, leaving him with a newfound confidence in himself.

"I'm leaving with just encouragement to continue to work on myself, invest in my interests, invest in my strengths, identify my weaknesses, identify areas where I can grow, areas where I can learn," Richards said. "And encourage myself to step into spaces that may seem daunting but with the help of others and the help of other industries, I can get in doors and gain confidence going into uncharted territories.

"This is an opportunity to invest in who you are with the game or without the game, so I encourage anybody to make this a priority and to gain something and be able to build on who they are outside of football."

Related Content