May 3, 2020

Will Blackmon — The NFL Wine Guy's Journey from Super Bowl Winning Safety to Sommelier

Will Blackmon — The NFL Wine Guy's Journey from Super Bowl Winning Safety to Sommelier

This special weekend addition pod comes on the heels of our guest's official launch of his latest business endeavor, The Wine MVP.

This special weekend addition pod comes on the heels of our guest's official launch of his latest business endeavor, The Wine MVP.

Will Blackmon played 14 years in the NFL, including time with the Packers, Giants, Seahawks, and Redskins. His ability to learn new defensive schemes while in the NFL has translated well to his interests off the field as he has become a quick study in the world of wine. He is one of the first NFL veterans to achieve Level 2 Sommelier Certification.

Listen in as Will shares the story of how he first got into wine, led by veteran teammate Charles Woodson. We also learn how The Wine MVP came to be and what's in store for the future of Will's business in the wine world. Both wine novices and experts will enjoy this episode as we ask our guest to share some of his favorite bottles and winemakers.

You can follow Will Blackmon on Twitter and Instagram @willblackmon, and be sure to check out The Wine MVP at

Follow co-hosts Jay Kapoor (@JayKapoorNYC) and Tim Katt (@Tim_Katt) for all things sports, media, tech, and venture capital.

Follow The Game Plan on Twitter (@thegameplanshow) and Instagram (@gameplanshow) for show news and updates, to recommend guests, and for bonus content!


*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as an automated service is used to generate this text*

On the game plan. We brought on some great athletes, turn entrepreneurs, building technology or consumer products companies, but I can pretty much guarantee that our guest today is going to be one of the most unique ones we're going to have on for a while today. We're thrilled to have on will Blackman who is a 12 year NFL veteran certified level two Somalia and now the founder of the wine MVP.

Will thanks so much for joining us on the game plan.

Thank you. I'm so glad to be here and I appreciate it.

Hey, well a lot of guys have had linear journeys where they play for one team for many years, but you played for quite a few different teams over a stretch of 12 or so years. As you look back on your NFL career, what made you decide to keep going and keep playing versus maybe retiring a little earlier than you did. 

well in my case, I was the, I was a typical kid where. it was legit, my dream to play in the NFL, you know? And so that's all I ever wanted to do, and it's the only thing I ever wanted to do. So as long as I had the opportunity to keep playing, I w I'm for it, you know, I obviously went through a lot, adversity wise with injuries and what have you.

but because it mattered to me so much that I just, I kept going and kept finding ways to heal my body and get opportunities to keep competing. So, it's, we had the luxury of being on different teams, obviously. Yeah. It'd be great to play for one team for a while. I remember when I was on the rescue and hanging out with dowel green.

I mean, he lived in the same house for 20 years, you know, which is, yeah, that's the only thing he played for, which is unheard of. But being able to, you know, go, go to green Bay, where unless I played for the Packers, I would have never gone to. and then going to, you know, the giants, which, which was super cool to play there.

Then go into, the Jaguars, which, same thing, I would never go to Jacksonville. And then playing for the Redskins. So we've got a lot of culture in terms of playing for different teams. But yeah, it was my dream job and I wanted to do as long as I could.

Yeah, that's pretty, pretty cool. And a lot of respect for just the persistence and it paid off early on in your career, you won a super bowl with the giants in 2011. At what point along that NFL journey did you really start to think about what came next for you?

Well. It's funny because even going back to high school and getting recruited, I was, I was one of the, recruits that was looking for the both, both balanced. You want the academics and the athletics. Let me find those types of schools when at the end of the day, yeah, I majored in English, but I was, I was majoring in football.

Like that was my degree. That was my degree, you know what I'm saying? So I ended up, obviously ended up going to Boston college and. It became real like, man, I really have a chance to go to the NFL. So it was kind of like, I'm prepared for plan B, but I'm all about plan a. And it's the same thing. When I was playing in the NFL, I was like, man, I'm so invested in plan a right now that I'm not looking towards the exit until it becomes close.

And. It became close around 2016 I want to say I probably have, I probably have like five more years left if I want to play, but we actually ended up, my wife and I ended up buying a house to set down some roots. Like, okay, this is where we want to be when it's all said and done. And then that's kind of where I started, you know, doing more things on TV, you know, NFL network and Fox, and then along those other things.

So I just, and I knew I wanted to do something with why I just did no. Business wise, what I want to do.

Yeah. And we'll get to the business side of wine in a minute. But how did you first get into wine as an efficient auto and who were some of the trusted people that you turn to to learn about wine?

yeah, well, I just, I always just been a, you know, just regular consumer, just, I just enjoyed it. in my own leisure. I remember my, roommate. My team at BC and the giants, Matthias Cuban Nuka, he had this like little eight ring wine rack in our dorm, you know, that probably had a bunch of old wine tastes like vinegar, but we didn't even know, and enjoying that.

And then, you know, a party, somebody would bring by the jug of wine like we were in the seventies. But, yeah, just always enjoyed it like that as a consumer. And then once I, once I went to the Packers. You know, I was able to meet some businessman like in Milwaukee, you know, the Grunow family, 

he introduced me to burgundy. I had no idea what burgundy was. And then obviously the, the biggest influence was, was definitely Charles Woodson. He, he, he was a huge influence just because. Every time we went out to dinner, he had wine, he had a glass of wine, he did anybody in that. But he drank it just so chill and comfortable.

And then I learned, he put out his own bottle. He had Charles Woodson wines and I was like, Oh wow, this dude, I'm a rookie, you know, in green Bay, this, I'm over here throwing back Guinness. That was my drink of choice because that's what happens in your Wisconsin man. You're 21 years old drinking Guinness.

And In new castle and all kinds of crazy stuff. Oh, and spot account. I was my jam right there. I was, I was all about Spotify and,

Yeah. I'm a Wisconsin kid, so you know all

yeah, I know. I know. You know all about that. Exactly. Yeah. Going to rock bottom and Milwaukee. Oh yeah. Already.


But yeah, that's how I knew. Okay, this dude's legit. He has his own a winery.

He has his own label. He has his own tasting room. He's right there at Napa on route 29 and so I literally got to look vicariously through him on the business side. So I started to learn more, but I was truly a novice just in terms of what I just knew what I liked and I was like, yeah, you know, I know calves and Chardonnay does, and that's where I ended.

Yeah, man. And I, and I heard this rumor that you and Charles Woodson used to go out and drink wine before big games. So how true is that story and is that the secret to longevity in the NFL?

now, I mean, that was his secret for a while. I mean, he was living the gene when he was on the Raiders. They have training camp in Napa at the Marriott is like Ray. I mean, you kidding me? Like that would be heavenly. And so every away game. it didn't matter. The magnitude of the game, all the defensive backs, we will all go out to dinner and Charles will pick the restaurants and the texts like, Hey, meet everybody.

Meet here, leave your suits on. We're going to go to a really nice place. So every weekend we did. And, we played Minnesota, I think there was 2008, and we, we, you know, there are usual fine dining, good wine. And then we just kept having more wine and cause I guess we had a, it was a short trip, so into Minnesota from Wisconsin.

So we got there early enough time before we had to go back for a meeting. So we, we had so much wine that night. It was just crazy. And then it got to the point where, I remember when we were almost done, we heard music and the waitress like, yeah, there's this, actually there's a huge lounge upstairs.  . We were like, we looked at our watches. We were like, all right, we still got like another half hour. So we all, the defensive backs went upstairs and when it was me, Charles Woodson, Jamal Williams, Nick Collins, Patrick Lee, I think that was, that was pretty much it.

We all went upstairs and we got more wine, and then we saw a Troy Aikman. And, and Joe Buck, they were there too, and they came by and gave him a glass. And so, where are they living? Like we have nothing going on tonight or tomorrow. So then I remember we get back to the, to our hotel, and I was like, man, I looked in the mirror and I was just glossy eyed.

And it was like, damn, dude. And we have a noon. I think it was a, it was a noon game. Well, I think it was, I think it was, it was a primetime game. And I was like, damn, dude, like I don't know what I'm gonna do tomorrow. So get up the next day and I feel like absolute trash and I, I'm talking to, I'm talking to Charles, talking to all the Charles is fine, but your mind or he wasn't feeling well and Nick Collins and so we get into the game, you know, drilling kicks down, warmed up, hydrate. Then immediately Charles Woodson gets a pit,

Oh wow.

we're like, no, but we're like, that's Charles of Queensland of course. And you get to pick like this. I mean, there was nothing new. He was taking stuff off every week, and then I think a quarter later Tamana gets a pic and I was like, Aw, dude. Like, like that was a nice job.

You know? He had a lot of momentum that season. I think he got a contract the next year, and then third quarter, Nick Collins had a pick six.

No way.

And I'm like, yo, I'm like, what is going on right now?

seriously. What was in that line?

no, but I'm like, damn, that's

No, it gets better.

through so far, everybody did something, you know? And then I'm like, well, shoot, like I got to do something now, you know?

And, and I go back and I receive a punt and I take it to the house too. So then we're on the sideline, like losing the whole mind, like, yo, we got to go every night.

so I said it gets better. I remember that game. Who knew that you guys were were drinking wine

Yeah. We still lost that game cause Mason missed the kit.

That's right. That's right.

Oh wow. I can't believe you guys

still lost that game, but no, but ever since that day. Yeah. I don't get trash, but I'll have like a few glasses before I go to bed.

I'll watch film, have a plate of pasta, have some wine and then, and that was it. So that was my thing ever since 2008.

Yeah. And I was looking back and  saw you had had two touchdowns that year against the Raiders. I had to double check to see if it was in green Bay or if it was. Right


Napa, but it wasn't in green Bay, so there wasn't the Napa ISACs for that one. But

but it was 18 degrees. I'll tell you that.

Yeah. Maybe a little bit of wine might've helped that day.

That would, a dad would've done a damn thing at all.

So, you know, Charles was one of the ones who kind of first introduced you to wine and helped you, it sounds like, helped you grow more of an appreciation for it. Do you continue to keep in touch with them today? It was he, someone who continued to guide you on that, or, you know, did you start to find others that, helped you as you dove more into it?

Yeah. I think for him it was just more of the culture and the lifestyle of wine. I always enjoyed it, on my own in terms of being introduced, but it was just more so just his, just the lifestyle about it, how he has his own line of business. And I thought that was cool. And then I just kept continuing to learn more from other people.

other executives, other events who would try to educate me on wine. And then I just took it upon myself to continue to like, read more and figure it out. And it still didn't make a lot of sense. cause they're just, there's so much info that's, it's an, it's a choir to really receive that info. And then, you know, I remember I like most people who are heavily into wine.

I saw that documentary song on Netflix and a good friend of mine, Jason Wise, he, he produced it, that film. And producing directly to his wife wrote and directed as well, and I was like, Aw, this is cool. In terms of. The, the information, the stories cause cause for football, I fell in love with the stories.

That's why I became such a fanatic with football. I grew up, my dad had all the VHS NFL films as the of NFL football Follies.  Like I love all that stuff. Like I, I love the stories of football. And so for wine that documented the same thing, it was like, man, there's some, there's so many cool stories, you know, people.

Having Wars over wine or doing this or you know, swapping countries over wine and in, in certain things like that. Like the, the declaration of independence was signed and they had Madeira, you know, that was, that was the drink of choice. They want it Madeira. So it was, it was cool for, for, for all that stuff where I want us to keep, cause you to know more.

So I was like, okay, I'm not trying to be a master som Somalia, but. I know there's, there has to be some wine class, like I wanted to just do a workshop or something like that. And so I ended up finding the, the wine and spirits education trust people. They just call it WSET or w set, and Peter Neptune, who's one of the master Somalis in the video, he has, he has a school here in Southern California and it's a legit certification.

So I was like, all right, I just dove in and took that eight week course and ended up passing a level two and then. That right there. It changed everything. I  learned  to not be subjective. I learned. so many intricacies and details of just evaluating wine alone. You know, something as small as I will go to these huge, fancy dinner parties in Wisconsin or New York, and I have somebody bring up, you know why actually I went to the DNC, the democratic convention when John Kara was running, and some person came over to me with a glass of wine and was like, Oh, look at these legs and swirling around and trying to show me this.

And. You know, I, I ended up learning that those ladies don't mean a damn thing in terms of quality and they don't, you know, so it was like this person really was trying to tell me how good this wine is because of the legs when, Oh, it is just viscosity and residual sugar and you know, alcohol content.

Like that's all it is in terms of the legs is, that's all it is. So just little things like that, which was cool. So I just wanted to, I became obsessed and want to know more. And,  that's how it happened for education standpoint.

Yeah. W what was it about, you know, the want, the wanting to know more? Was it so that in that public setting you could, you know, have the confidence to talk more about it and select wines at dinners and so on? Or was it the personal challenge and drive that you had to, you know, just kinda master a new thing?

What was it that about that, that was really appealing to you?

Oh, well, I would say initially it's just, it was just for the self satisfaction of like just research, just finding information. Just because I wanted to know more. I was curious for myself, like how man I really want to know and yeah, that's an, it's an added benefit to, I can have a conversation, with whoever when it came to wine.

Like that does help, no question about it. But for me it was just a matter of. Man, I want to know more. It was kind of similar to my drive to want to go to the NFL. I'd never talked about it. I was never the kid telling everybody my dreams to go into the NFL. I never wrote on papers. My dream, I want to go to the NFL when I'm older.

I never said anything about it. I just, anytime I found an opportunity to get better or improve or you know, get recognition, I took advantage, but it was nothing. I really. was outspoken about it. It's kinda the same thing with this whole war. I think that's why it's like all of a sudden, Oh, you know, will was in the wine business.

Well, has, you know, he's becoming a certified Somalia. He's doing this now. The third, cause I just been working on it on my own.

Yeah. And what's that process of getting certified to be as Somalia? Like we hear about people studying for it and you know, taking the tests and the questions that go through. Do you really have to be able to pick up a glass of wine and be able to. point out what vineyard is from, or is it maybe a little bit more simpler than

Yeah. Well, for the, for the w said, that's just more of a, it's a class, it's a full on class with an exam. yes, you get, you learn their style of deductive taste method is different than the court of masters, Somalia. So you might see some people where it says CMS, that's quarter a minute.

And that's where, that's those guys on the movie song. They're their masters

Oh, got it. Okay.

So I ended up passing my level one, and then I remember I registered like for level two. A week before the exam, which is the worst mistake of my

Oh my

told, Oh, I totally bomb level two.

Oh my gosh. Yeah, dude, I got, but the good thing is, I know what to expect now. So for the CMS, they have the tasting theory, which is pretty much, you know, the information, you know, multiple choice and fill in writings. And then you have service where you actually, you actually in a dining setting and you have to serve.

You know, it's like a mock setting for a restaurant. So yeah, in terms of looking at a glass and figure it out, in terms of evaluating, you have sight, you have nose, you have pallet, you have initial conclusion, final conclusion, you know, so you go through that whole entire thing. And so. , the more and more you keep trying on wise, the more and more you an understanding of information, the better you are to figure that out.

You know, it's, it's so, it's so much. So when people like man, they can just nail it down is because things are familiar. Just a quick thing, quick example. If, if I have a red wine in, it's in, it's pretty thin, right? It's pretty light. Like you could see through it, you know, pay, you could say it's pale, pale medium is what they say. I know that Cabernet doesn't look like that. Gone Zinfandel doesn't look like that. Gone now, that gone all the, all the hard, heavy, dark lines. You don't even got to think about them anymore. And obviously it's not a white wine. So they're all gone too. So now I'm working with, you know, a couple of wines, maybe Nebbiolo, maybe piano war, you know, so I'm fighting with those two now.

Cause those are the only. I can think of right now, two thin grapes, and then when I taste the wine, if I get like super crazy tannins, which is the dry feeling in your mouth, then I'm like, well, piano art doesn't have heavy channels like that. . Nebbiolo dos, so now I'm in Nebbiolo. I know.

That's the great variety. And then based on whatever your information you studied, you can find the vintage and what have you, but that's how you re, it's pretty much a process. It's a process of elimination, you know, 

yeah. I mean, it kind of reminds me of like when you're looking at formations and football, right? If you're looking at a two wide receiver, two tight end set, there's only a certain number of things that they can run out of that, right? And so you narrow it

know, you find the indicators, same thing with like if I get a white wine and I smell. Bell pepper and I smell grapefruit. There's only one wine that smells like that and it's Savia on block. So I just cancel everything out. I'm not even going as far as say, Pinot Grigio. I'm going to get slapped in the face cause I'm just not.

So that's what I'm saying, like it's, it's taught, it's not like, Oh, I have a gift. It's taught, you know, so. .

Yeah. I guess to follow up on that, I mean, how important is it for you to be able to develop that palate and how much time do you really spend on it to be able to know, okay, this is peaches, this is bell pepper, and so on and so forth.

Yeah, it's a, it's a little bit of both. It's a little bit of both because, you know, when I was studying for this, I did a blind tasting, just a quick one day workshop with Josh or who's a master som in San Diego. And one of the wines which I probably had one time my entire life was Toronto's, you know.

And from Argentina, and there's kind of like a. Almost like a waxy, like lemon pledge type of note in there, which I would have never gone. Never really found out until someone really told me. So now when I have it, I'm like, Oh, okay, I see where it is. Cause I'm getting all kinds of other characteristics tastes like Chardonnay from Chablis tastes like Savio and blogger tastes like other things.

I'm not, I'm missing that one little component, the big rock that they call it, you know. so I can get a lot of details. But like the big rocks, that's why you see guys like in the movie, they're tasting as in groups. You know, they're being trained by other masters because there's like little details. So it's complex.

But I, I enjoy this as crazy as it

I mean, I don't think it sounds crazy at all. You've found a new passion to engage you outside of

but that's, but that's the biggest thing that you, you hit it it right on the head because. You know, like you said, what, what is your post career plan? And for me it was like I could easily go into coaching, right? I'm technically an expert in football. I've been playing since I was six, play professional for 12 years.

I can go coach, I can go into front office. I will love to do those things. I can go on TV, which I'm already doing now, but the, but what are. Like, will that really fulfill me? Am I really passionate about that? If I did those things, I would enjoy it. But coaching, I didn't want to put those hours, and again, I've been away.

I've been away from home a lot from playing football, but for some reason like wine legit moved me in a way where I was like, man, this could be really cool. And it's ageless. It's the Melissa's timeless and right passion because that's this. There's two transitions.  Transitioning incidentally, right? You're 21 years old. you have no responsibility in college. You mean you're, you're on a scholarship and then you end up in a professional sport and you have to become an adult. Now you gotta buy a house. Now you gotta buy a car. Now what are all rent?

You have to, you get, all of a sudden now I'm getting bills. I never paid a bill in my entire life. You know what I'm saying? Like I'm getting all these, now I have to be an adult. So that's, that's a hard adjustment for that. And then the other one, which is more difficult, is your transition. Autoliv I've done one thing for what, 28 years. You know what I'm saying? I put, that's all I do is play football and do anything else. That's all I did. So from ages six to, you know, 34 or whatever it is, my whole life was scheduled for me. Everything was planned. I'll wake up, work out, wake up, I go play. I just to make sure my grades are good and everything is all set.

So now I'm out of football. You know, he's just like, you take the hamster off the wheel and he's like, damn, what the hell do I do now? So, yeah, no, seriously. So it's like what so many guys, like so many guys go through this of what do I do is like, man, the easiest thing is like, I'm going to go coach because it's pretty easy.

So, I've been fortunate to really go hard at this and to find a lot of people who, who are supporting this. Most importantly, my wife, she supports this whole heartedly. because she says, I, Oh, it shows me I have days, man. I have days where it's like, damn, dude, man, you know, I could still play right now.

 Like I said, is as passionate and as fun. This wine thing is there. There is nothing like running out of the tunnel at all and, and strapping it up.

Like there's nothing like that at all. And so it's, it's really hard to find that fire, which is why a lot of guys struggle with that.

Yeah. We were just talking with a guest Detlef shrimp who played in the NBA for.


years and he was TA, yeah, he was talking about how it's, it's just not real in a certain sense. In his case, play in front of 20,000 people in your set your case, 60 to a hundred thousand people. You just can't possibly replicate that in anything else.

Right.  I want, yeah, I want to talk. About and hit on your transition, but before we do that, I want to talk a little bit more about the passion with wine. Are you also as passionate about like the hospitality component that often accompanies wine? Does that interest you as well, or is it really truly about about the wine?

About the liquid

I'm definitely. Now at the point where, yeah, hospitality is key. cause even my, even when I played, my style was I love finding indicators and sharing information. Like, man, if I have a tendency, like I can't wait to tell the other group about it. And then even when I'm on TV, I'm never, I'm never the antagonist.

Ever. that's, I don't play that. I'm not a fan of that. Yeah, it's good for TV, but I like to be, you know, the educator for the masses. Like, Hey, I'll meet you. Let me take you on the huddle. Let me take you in the locker room. Let me show you what's going on. Let me give you information. And the same thing in wine is I want to give you information.

I want to really show you what it's like. Let me give you a few tips on. You know how to taste one hi, how to, how to pair wine with whatever. You know, what you love fried chicken. Guess what goes with fried chicken? Champagne. You know, who doesn't want a free, I'm paying her fried chicken. You know what I'm saying?

So, doing that, and that's, I know we'll get into it later, but that's the whole thing with the wine MVP. It's, it's an, it's an a business where I can give everybody, , wine, you know, tasting notes, videos, and just really walk the process and educate you. So, yeah, I'm all for that.

Yeah. Let's, let's talk a little bit about your transition then from being in the NFL to post career. You mentioned that that's an even harder transition than when you first get into the league and you have adult responsibilities. Was there anyone that you turn to or really look to for guidance as you had those first couple of days, weeks, months, and years out of the league?

not so much. I feel like due to. I had nine surgeries when I played. Right. So after surgeries you have recovery. And as you got a lot of time to think, trust me. So I took full advantage of those things because what happens is when you get hurt and you're out, yeah, it's scary, man. Because, you know, my notion going in, going into football, it was like if you get hurt, they're going to move on period.

And my, my very first day ever in NFL, I broke my foot, my first practice ever broke my foot, and I was like, I was like, damn, they're gonna cut me. It's over. So yeah, I graduated on crutches, believe it or not.

So, but when I did get hurt injured, other times I just took full advantage of, okay, well this is a time for me to network. This is time for me to work on other things while I can, because I don't have control of my body. I can't run right now. And so there's no sense of me sitting here being miserable and ticked off about it all the time.

So, okay. I did some radio, I just, some TV, you know, I met this person once at these workshops, went to these clinics, and I just kept. You know, putting money in the bank in terms of that. So, yeah. You know, I, someone asked me the other day, he's like, how'd you get into TV? You know, what are the steps? I'm like, well, believe it or not.

Like I did radio and TV and green Bay. I did radio and TV and  Jacksonville in Washington, you know, like those, those places I actually put in stuff like that.  also, I wasn't a jerk to the media at the same time. So. When it came down to it, they threw me out of the UK's, you know, if there was an opening, they were like, Hey, you should call will.

So, I think just through all that, I did a good job of just not burning bridges. and in terms of, in terms of all that.

Yeah. And part of making that transition while you are still playing is that you have all of these relationships that are around you and for you, I guess you parlayed that into. The wine concierge service right before the wine MVP, you just became the guy that other players could reach out to and say, Hey, I'm stocking my seller.

What do I need to own? What do we need to have? You know, I saw recently that Saquon Barkley tweeted out that he was trying to set up his own wine cellar and he was crowdsourcing advice and like 80 different people tagged you in it, and everyone says that, you know, you're the number one NFL wine guy that everybody needs to know.

So how did that come about?

Yeah. So, yeah, I can't, I can legally refer to myself as the NFL white guy. I just can't use that as a business. . I had a nice conversation with league office,

Oh man. Oh man.

I had, I would have to apply for licensing, which I still might apply for licensing later on. You know, once we start, you know, figuring things out.

But. So, yeah, what the wine of VP is, it's a two part thing. Like I do have the personal concierge side where certain players, you know, I just, I just did two sellers this week, which was cool for me, which is, which is, I'm real, I'm now starting to do all that. So this is brand new. so yeah, guys, guys who are collecting who I do sell it inventory, I can get, you know, certain cool things that whoever people want from anywhere.

So I do that personally for private guys. But the later this week, I want to say, well, definitely in April we're going to start taking presales for the one MVP subscription, and that's going to be . Two curator bottles that, you know, I met with actual wine makers and wineries and, made a deal, and we get going to get two wines in the box, every month.

it'd be for 79 98. there'll be, it'd be really cool. I got these tasting, those that I made that looked like trading cards, which would be pretty cool. You know, it's going to be really fun. And then there'll be videos on YouTube, Explain, you know, explaining the wines more in depth. So once again, this is a situation where I'm taking everybody hand in hand and, and real.

It's not just going to be like, here's your wine and enjoy it. It's going to be, here's your wine, here's more information about the wine. the foods we're going to pair with would be like tailgate type items. Nothing. I'm not going to give you like four of law. You know, people are like doing one. I don't want that to, what the hell is that?


Yeah. Right.

gonna be nothing crazy like that. It'd be like ribs or something. But yeah, that's, that's, that's what's going on now. So the private conscientious side is, you know, like I said, say Quan reaches out, whoever. I got them. But then the other part is subscription. The differences to what the wine is.

A lot of these companies, what they do is. They and I have some cause I'm a victim myself. You like I bought member, I think it was a couple of years ago. I bought like. What, 12 wines for like 80 bucks. I was like, score, you know what I'm saying? I think, I think I got like 18 bottles or something crazy like that.

Right. And then I was a huge guy of tracking my wines on like Vivino or delectable. I was that guy. And I'm like, damn dude, like these wines are not showing up. Like what are like, what are these? I start Googling. I can't find

must be rare. They must be

they must be.

so they're not on there.

These are what in the depth sellers in France, you know, with inmates and stuff like that.

I don't know. but I found out that these companies go and they buy bulk juice, like leftover juice for cheap, and they just slap a private label on them. you know, you might, you might find one out of like maybe 30 bashes or where a good bottle, but they just do that, just slap it on. And. And, but if, but for those who don't care, and I actually, there's two wines that I'm using.

One of the guys, he's a African American who left the tech company and he hired a bunch of like big names and Napa and he's making a Napa blend. That's outrageous. He's, I think he's making like 300 cases only.

Oh wow.

I'm gunna, they made a deal with him, you know, w we'll put it out there so.

Yeah. And when it comes to this whole culture around wine is, you know, people start to age up from drinking beer into something a little more ages like wine.

never stopping drinking beer. Okay.

All right. Sure. Fair enough. But, but your tastes does graduate. And as you're talking about this trading card piece of it, or you know, the storytelling piece of it.

Finding that emotional connection to the wine. I mean, that's pretty interesting as well. So what are some of the interesting stories that you've learned as you've started to really delve into this craft of wine?

Yeah. Well, I. Like, for example, I, you know, I, I became fond of wines and Alsace, you know, off South France, which is borders Germany. And I guess back then, you know, I think the Franco oppression area, I believe is like one year the winery belongs to France. The next year the winery belongs to Germany. Like they just get beef and over there at one area, you know.

Taking the vineyards and also there's a wine and Roan court Armatage and I guess apparently there was a, there was some stuff going on in the night. We'll keep getting called down from his castle to keep, you know, they want, they don't want his help. So one day he went to his castle and he did, he didn't feel like coming out.

He's like, I'm tired of dude. And they started calling him the hermit. Hence, hence Armatage. So I don't know. That's what I'm saying. I like those little things to me are finding it right now. A re in a book by John bone, I believe his name is called the new California, and it's in his research, basically is going through the transition from how California was in the, you know, twenties thirties forties fifties sixties seventies how they went from being like.

You know, natural winemakers to now science-based technology type wine makers, big flavor of big, bold cabs that are buying up all these old wineries. So just to change it some California, how it was then to how it is now. So I'm reading that right now, and I think that's fascinating too. So it was cool, man.

And, and I, yeah, I watched. I probably watched every single wine show on Netflix. Everything on Amazon prime. I'm watching anything people, everyone was texting me left to right. You see it on cork, you see on cork that I'm like, yes, I see it on court. I see no first thing yesterday morning, me and me and Dylan Proctor were actually really good friends and he's, he was part of that film, so, 

So as a, not only a wine aficionado, but someone who's actually certified as a small, what are some of the bottles or vineyards that everyone should have in their collection? And also for you, you know, what type of wine do you, is kind of your go to curious to hear if you're a cab guy or more of a burgundy, you know, what, what's some of your interests.

Well, the cool thing, man, is like, I'm at equal opportunities. I just talked to, a player from the bills and he's just a massive cab guy.  I'm able to find a, so let me go back. So I partnered with the wine exchange. We were partnered to do this wine MVP thing.

They're doing my fulfillment for me and all that stuff, so, which I don't have to go get my own license to sell wine. . But I get to go here to their shop every Tuesday. And sit down when older distributors come in. So I'm literally, it's, I get there at like 10 maybe by 10 45 I ripped through like 60 wines.


Okay. Like not, not exaggerating, like spot 50 60 wines. So my, my point is I'm able to find, this is what I told him. I could find a balm cab for 300 I gotta find out Bobcat for 19 bucks. obviously there's a lot of things that go into it. You know, people might have a reputation, that's why it's expensive or the, the technology they use to make the wine.

And you know, in the old world, like France is more so like the terroir reputation is, is what makes it expensive. So I'm, I'm just pretty much all over the place in terms of, you know, what, what people, what to tell people what they like, what they should have. Hm. I don't know, man. I'm trying everything. I just found that my wife like Shannon block, which is like sit, you know, so from oeuvre in lower Valley, so , I'm a big believer in like just just you like what you like.  that's, that's the beauty of wine is there, there are, there are really no rules. You're not going to be, especially with me, you're not going to be frowned upon. You know, I remember some, one of my teammates posted on his story and tag me.

He had a bottle of Louis martini, I think, 2017, which I think retails for like 25 bucks, I believe it is. And I was like, Oh, that's solid. You know? And one of my friends responded. You think they are solid, you lost all your credibility as a Somalia and I was like, are you kidding me right now? He's like, Louis martini.

I'm like, once again, doesn't know his history. Everybody say you're, you're a wine maker. You're going to have your a hundred all ball's a cab, you also, you're going to have something that needs to sell, right? You're going to have your 1920 third year a ball to lose martini makes some unreal stuff and he's been around.

Forever, you know, since the seventies and that's something that, you know, he didn't know if you drink wine, I celebrate you seeing that. I get asked questions. What do I do at restaurants when the Somalia comes to me? Nothing. That's what it is. Therefore, you don't do anything. You put he's there. You ask him what do you want?

Like you tell them, help me out. What do you have? Like help have them help you. That's what he's there for. You know, you don't have to.

Yeah, I remember when I was in Tuscany, you know, they were telling us about the vineyard and we were in Kianta Classico. So they said, you know, for every acre they get to produce 800 bottles, they get to, you know, put the label on it and certify it. And then he took us over to this VAT where he was like, well, then this is called our super Tuscan, which we mix in all the stuff that we can't sell, and it's  delicious.

It's so

No, exactly.

what are we paying for the expensive bottle for it?

good, it fits. Exactly. It's good. You know, there's, you have the first world's wines in Bordeaux, France, like the Mouton and, and, you know, the protrudes you got, yeah. Lithia all those guys you got, just all kinds of, those got this first growth, but then you got, you know, fifth growth wines, that I had the other day.

gosh, I gotta find it again, but that was ridiculous. Oh, I own real, you know? And, that's, that was, that was cool, man. It's, I love all facets because it's never ending just Italy. There's 3000 great varieties alone.

Oh, is that right? I didn't realize it was that many, man. Wow.

yeah. There, there's, there's some timing. There's so many things like that. It's endless.

And that's the, that's the cool thing about it. It's like golf.

it's, it's, it's crystal clear that you're passionate about it. I'm curious how the business and administrative side of standing up. the wine MVP has been for you, you know, what, what challenges have you experienced and what parts do you maybe even enjoyed about, the parts around promotion and organization and event, all of that?

Like, what's that been like for you?

the cool thing is like, the challenges, I, I really don't really,  I guess let them affect me so much. I guess in terms of challenges, a lot of people don't care. You know? And the other thing is a lot of people are intimidated, but those, that's what excites me. Cause I love, I'm a fan of convincing people.

Like, just trust my word. And it's like, try it. You know? I'm like, I'm like the dude from green eggs and ham, like, dude, try it. You know, I'm like, come on sale. You know, I am, 

like, I'm actually the. The wine correspondent from my committee, my community here, for our, for our neighborhood magazine, . And it's about that. It's, my first article I wrote is, you know how I went from Guinness to reverse demeanor and how people were, it was frowned upon because like, it wasn't like a tough thing.

Like it wasn't, you know, you were thrown by Guinness and Jamison, even though I was. And it wasn't manly. I'm like, well, shoot, you know, if you're a Christian, Jesus drank wine baby. Oh, well. Or, or, yeah, whatever. Placing me in Charleston and people looking at me, you say something to me and Charles Woodson, you know, say something to Charles and we're drinking wine.

You know, he's the baddest dude in green Bay right now. So he's out. And so, it's. It's more so that challenges in terms of what people think or some people just don't care or want that want to learn. Like, okay, yesterday Antonio Cromartie he was drinking. No, he was eating. He made shrimp, tilapia and pasta he period.

What Caymus and I was like. As I time out, dude, like I have to interject here. I was like, how about, how about you have a nice Pinot Grigio with that and have the Caymus afterwards? He was like, Nope. I like it. I like it. I'm like, alright man, what you want to do? You know, it's all good and try to help you try to help you out.

But Hey, like I said, there were no rules, but I embrace all challenges in terms of, just, it's just going to make me better.  I felt like I'd done a good job just so far. And to help people want to understand why more so I actually started talking about wine on my Twitter handle at well black men and I got a few responses and then I ended up creating my handle, the NFL wine guy, and I was like, Hey, whoever is really interested about wine, come on over.

So I started falling in and I got to a thousand pretty quickly, which was a win for me and got to. You know, talk more about it there. And then started going on the herd and common Lowe's talking about wine. And so he and I had fun on the herd all the time. And so I think it came down to, especially in business that I learned, Is that people just, people want to work with people that they actually like not so much of how good you are at something. So I had a lot of cool feedback where people are like, listen, I'm not really into wine. I don't really care much about it, but I'm down to learn if you're going to teach or, or explain anything.

So I got a lot of that, for, for new wine drinkers, so people who don't know how.

and it, and it's a shared experience, which is one of the greatest things of wine.

Yeah, we're to the, we had a cold OSAC social additions wine party the other night. Everyone sat in their driveways and we were just like yelling at each other. So.

Yeah, that's, that's what we gotta do these days now, man. So look on that point. you know, you got on one end of the spectrum of guys that are just discovering wine and you're obviously there to help them discover it. And on the other hand, you've got quite a few athletes who in retirement, like Charles Woodson, drew Bledsoe, Wayne Gretzky.

They have their own vineyards. And so why do you think so many of these athletes gravitate towards that and have those vineyards? Whose wines have you tried that you've enjoyed the most.

why they have terms for wine, I'm not sure, but I have had huge support as of late from two guys in the same draft. Who went back to back. And that's drew Bledsoe and Rick Meyer. Rick Myra has a mirror vineyards, as an an actual mirror, cause people get it confused with muira, which is a different wine.

But, and then drew Bledsoe's double back. And I had, I had drew blood cells, his 2008, which was on unreal. And then Rick Myers, his, his Sharnay, which was very, very good. So those two right now are outstanding. And Charles is new line intercept, which is. More a price wise, it's more for the average buyer. I think his price points around 20, 25 bucks

Okay. I could get with that.


His whole, his whole lineup is, his whole lineup was legit for that. So there, yeah, there's a lot of good things out there that I enjoy. I had, John legend has a Rose, a L a V, E that I had the other day. which actually might, I might go buy the rest of those. Right now there's like 14 left. 

Well that's good. That's good to keep an eye out for, especially the Charles Woodson one, which is definitely at my price point as some of the higher

Listen, I'm telling you, I'm all about flavor, man. I can find you

Drink what you like.

dinky. Yeah. There's a cab out there called I think Joseph cards. It's ridiculous. And it got, it's like 19 bucks and it's so

That's great. That's great. I love anyone that I can afford, so that's awesome.

You know, one question we love to wrap with will that we talked to all of our guests about is advice for some of our listeners, which is made up of everyone from pro athletes, athletes in college. About how to make that transition. So we'd love to hear from you. For our listeners out there, you know, any piece of advice you have as it relates to the transition post-career.

Yeah, I would. I would just pretty much say, okay, whatever your interests are, try to. well, it's almost like a, like a little, like a campfire man is like, put all your interests. I like the sticks, you know, like put those together and just, and just keep ignited and see if anything catches, you know, just keep igniting it and igniting meaning, like watch videos or research and books or go to certain workshops.

And it's more so like, of your interests, like things you like to do, you know, and, and if those, not so much like outlets, but like true interests and just keep. Researching information there and keep networking there. I'm a big believer in networking and developing like genuine relationships. I had the opportunity of going to, I got asked to speak at this investment summit through the Opal group, and I'm like, why?

I'm not, I'm not trying to invest in anything and I have nothing for people to invest in. It's all like, why do you want me to go here? But I was like, you know what? Let me just go, cause you just never know what's going to happen there. So I get up there and I'm on a panel. It's Rashaun MCATs, I'm Ephraim Salaam, I believe, and Sean Merryman and, and it's like shark tank style.

All these guys are pitching all their things and they get to me. I'm like, look, I'll just, I say, I'm just here. I'm here. I'm here to learn. Okay, I'm here to listen. And I said, honestly, I just, I'm just here to develop true organic relationships. I said, I might, I might meet somebody here and we may never do business, but we might have lunch and just develop a cool friendship.

And I just got to talk about just, just how better things work if people are organic and genuine and you just never know. And, and from that, from that. 10 minute speech I did. I left with like 40 business cards. Same thing. People are like, man, when you have your subscription launch ready to go, like amen.

There's something about you're like, amen. You know? And so I just believe I'm right. Just keep researching, keep getting information and network, but have it be genuine though. Don't, don't go in there and, and have an agenda where. It's like a, you know, the, the biggest, the biggest pet peeve for me around here is where I live in California.

You, they know, they know what you do before they even know your name. You know, it's like, it's like, damn, dude, you know, can we have a genuine relationship? So, I, I do a good job of, of building those true organic, general relationships. And it's amazing just how. How much people will reach out and want to help.

and cause that is man, it's like, find the field you love, find affiliate interested in network that field support other people is, it's interesting, you know, when you do that, I, I support a lot of people and it's, it's cool how it's reciprocated when it's genuine. 

Yeah. And you know, as I'm hearing you talk about this, it all really comes back to this idea of identity, right? And especially coming from playing football all your life where people care more about what you do than who you are. You know, it's a tough for a lot of folks. And so for us, it's just great to hear that you found that identity in something that you're really passionate about.


I did get, yeah, no, and you're right. I want to hit on that because you know, there's the whole thing, and I know we want to rap, but. There's the, yeah, there's the whole, you know, the whole more than the athlete thing. The saute. I was like, man, I'm more than an athlete. I can do this and do that. But I was like, that's fine by me.

All I ever wants to be was a pro athlete. That's it. So I understand where it came from. It came from the lady telling LeBron, shut up and dribble. I get all that. Yeah. I know I'm more capable of doing things, but I love being just an athlete and Oh, you're more than, I was like. Yes, I can't be, but that is, that's my identity, you know, that sure.

Is it, it's my, my door, my ticket. Yeah, it is. But, it should be, I got nine surgeries where I'm going to get better be, you know what I'm saying? You know what I

Yeah. You really love it.

just, I just kept doing research and, and, and. you know, the same thing it goes to, I have a, a football training business where, agents call me to get their guys ready for the combine.

And same thing with them. I'm like, okay, like, where do I start? How do I get it going? Or. You know, what kind of things should I do? Strategize in one person right now who's killing it in their personal training business with that is Jordan Palmer. He has his hands on every quarterback you can think of right now.

He has Joe burrow, you know, this is this, this guy, he had Sam Donald before that and Josh Allen, and he's helping me right now. He was like, Hey, whatever you need, you know, I'm all good,

Yeah, yeah.

just from a genuine cause, one, I support him or hard. I love what he does and how he's doing it. And. And it was just like that is that you can't really, you can start by yourself, but don't, don't be afraid to ask for help.

 I'm not saying, I'm not saying collab with everybody. I'm saying you just have a lot of resources in acquaintances where you can live and learn from certain people, but you know, I'm not saying partner with whoever wants to be part of it. Protect

Yup. Yeah. I think that's a really great place for us to leave it. And you know, you've shared so much of your experience and the breadth of your learnings from both transitioning away from football into obviously what you're doing now that I think is going to be so relevant and helpful, not just for other athletes that are listening, but also for business people and entrepreneurs everyday who are trying to.

Take their passion and turn it into something that they can build and be proud of. So we thank you so much for sharing your experience. Thank you so much for joining us on the game plan.

Yeah. All good. Thank you guys.