By Jim Geham
“When I was in college, I was involved in more things than I can count in terms of internships, student organizations, sports, academics,” Edwards said. “When I got into the NFL I started working on a second career. I worked for the Equitable of Iowa while I played for the Vikings [1989-90]. I worked for the Equitable companies while I played for the Falcons [1995-97] and was a top 10 A-Class agent worldwide for them prior to joining Merrill Lynch in mid 1997.
“All of that led me ultimately into athletic administration (in 1999) where I became the senior associate athletic director and chief financial officer at South Carolina.
“And then in 2009, I wanted to go out and start managing my own shop and became the athletic director at Newberry College, which is a small Division II school right outside of Columbia, South Carolina. I was there three years and then I went to Jacksonville (University).”
Edwards returned to the shadow of Redskins Park in July of 2014 to become the athletic director at George Mason University, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“The university has now grown into the largest research university in Virginia with Nobel prize-winning faculty members,” Edwards said. “It has become a world class institution. It was extraordinary attractive from that perspective that they play at a high level. They are meaningful and relevant on a national and international basis in a city where I didn’t feel like I had to come in and recreate a brand, if you will.”
As a member of the Washington’s Super Bowl XXVI championship team, Edwards has been branded himself in the District of Columbia area.
“It gives you enormous credibility with coaches and with student-athletes,” Edwards said. “To some degree, fans, media and other constituents, they do assign you a measure of credibility in that you know what life is like as a student-athlete and you’ve done that successfully. And you’ve taken that to another level as a professional. You’ve been able to perform at the highest level as an athlete.
“Being a member of the Washington Redskins and winning a Super Bowl, and playing for a Hall of Fame coach in Joe Gibbs, you have the credibility of knowing what greatness looks like on a day to day basis in an athletic ecosystem.”
Because of the plan Edwards had in place, his transition from the playing field to the workforce has been remarkable. However, even though he’s successful, it doesn’t mean Edwards didn’t face challenges to reach where he’s at now in his career.
“I would say it was still difficult in terms of the transition and letting go when you’re in your early 30s,” Edwards said. “You are in some ways behind in the job market and certainly in this business. I quickly found myself competing with people who had a decade more of experience than I did. That adds some complexity to what you’re doing certainly in the transitional phase.”