Allen: 'It's hectic, crazy, exciting'

Robert Golden was no different than many of his Steelers teammates when the season ended, taking time off to recover, relax and rest. The typical things players do once the rigors of a full NFL year come to a close.

But since that initial rest, Allen has been doing anything but kicking back and relaxing.

Allen was one of 26 NFL players who have taken part in a three week NFLPA Externship Program, joining the workforce in a variety of capacities to learn about life outside the white lines.

"It's expanding and broadening my horizons," said Allen. "I'm getting educated and getting experience and exposure. I am working at a desk, learning how to use Microsoft Excel, Office, and Word, just growing with those things to start.

"I am building relationships and fostering relations with colleagues to get work done. It's very beneficial. I am thankful to the NFLPA for creating programs like this for players."

Allen, who has played 12 seasons in the NFL, worked in the office of Representative Bobby Rush from Illinois. It's been a new experience for Allen, who sat in on committee meetings, learned how legislation is written up, and understanding budgets and how money is allocated.

"It's hectic, crazy, exciting," said Allen. "It's everything you would imagine. It was fun, different, but I have definitely enjoyed it."

This is the second year that Allen has gotten involved with the NFLPA program, last year working with National Grid in the Boston area, which included field training with utility workers. He strongly believes that young players in the NFL should take part in the program, as well as others that are offered to them.

"I think it should be mandatory that you should have to do something like this during years one through four in the league," said Allen. "Whether it's the NFLPA externship, or going to the programs at Harvard, or Stanford business schools, those programs should be mandatory the first four years for players in the league. It teaches you so much about business, entrepreneurship, real world experience that is invaluable.

"You can use it forever. You are building a resume, showing you are diverse and not just a football player. It's just a few weeks at a down time and you need to experience it."

The Externship Program is one of the many things that the NFLPA and NFL offer to current and former players to help them gain experience away from the field in an effort to not just prepare for life after football, but to build relationships that can be beneficial while their playing careers are on-going.

This is the third year the NFLPA has offered this program, and it continues to grow every year.   

"Many players have been successful in football due to a linear focus on their athletic endeavors," said Leslie Satchell, NFLPA senior manager of player affairs and development and NFLPA Externship supervisor. "But the NFLPA recognizes the importance of taking time out to build professional relationships and experiences outside of football. We know it can be overwhelming to prepare for life after football, so that's where we step in. We've recruited some of the best organizations to host our player externs, and they are fully committed to immersing participants in the business world."

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