Making it to the NFL is a childhood dream for many kids in this country. How they end up getting there usually isn’t the most important part, but obviously the most ideal route is turning a productive college career into an eventual selection in the NFL Draft.
However, that’s not the case for quite a few players who wind up making it.
Many players who make up today’s NFL rosters were formally undrafted. Heck, the Chargers are one of the most notable teams who have a long history of turning undrafted players in success stories in this league.
Names like Antonio Gates and Austin Ekeler are obviously the biggest ones that come to mind immediately, but we’re not actually here to talk about the former UDFAs that made an impact on the team. We’re here to talk about those who turned a lack of success on the field into success off of it.
For those who are old enough to remember, the Chargers signed a linebacker named Marques Harris following the 2005 NFL Draft. Harris stuck around for five seasons in San Diego, where he mainly played a role on special teams. He ended his NFL career by failing to make the 49ers roster following his time in San Diego, where he finished with just 10 sacks in 60 career games.
However, that wasn’t going to be the end of Harris’ story. Not if he had anything to say about it.
Like many people who just watched their dream job slip from their grasp, Harris could have gone down a number of bad paths. But when you are already comfortable with fighting and clawing to beat the odds, this was just another bump in the road. After Harris exited the NFL, he returned home to Colorado where he committed to building a real estate business from the ground up.
The next phase of his career came in bunches. Soon after he received his real estate license, he started several other small businesses that all centered around his trade. As of today, Harris is focused on renovating and flipping properties — with most of his efforts being put toward multi-family projects in the Denver area.
As his entrepreneurial endeavors grew exponentially, Harris was able to turn some of his time to philanthropy. He later founded the Harris’ Kids Foundation, where he raises money for underprivileged kids, enabling them to play high sports sports while also receiving steady mentorship towards future success.
To top it all off, Harris is now a certified life coach and regularly takes opportunities to speak at public events. He normally does these through his non-profit, Athletes for CARE, which he founded in January 2017. The group strives to be a community of athletes that “use their influence to improve the global standards of health and athletes of all ages.”
When he isn’t speaking under the Athletes for CARE name, Harris also finds time to share his thoughts on other matters important to him, including financial advice and career development.
“I knew what it took to make it to the highest level and it’s take a team,” Harris said during an interview with MoneyInc.com. “My business specializes in helping people achieve their real estate and lifestyle goals with that same mentality.”
There are numerous former NFL players who were able to turn their on-field achievements into further success elsewhere following the end of their playing days. But when it comes to Harris, he didn’t have that same notoriety with which he could turn into a mountain of social capital. But he took the same work ethic, hustle, and chip on his shoulder that got him to the NFL, and not only turned it into a number of successful business, but several other non-profits and community works projects to ensure that the future will include a lot more individuals who will share his same path in life.