Marcus: Welcome to another episode of the Creative Power Hour. I'm your host Marcus Whitney and today my guest Derek Morgan. What's up brother? I'm good man. Thanks for being here.
Derrick: Thanks for having me.
Marcus: This is incredible. Man, when did we first meet? We first met at Oasis Center.
Derrick: Well, exactly.
Marcus: At Oasis Center.
Derrick: Exactly, entrepreneurship curriculum.
Derrick: That was 2015.
Marcus: Yeah, 2015.
Marcus: Thank you for being involved in that. That was incredible. We graduated probably 40 or 50 incredible kids through the program, who have gone on to do great things.
Marcus: But it was great to meet you and start to build a relationship, just like follow your path in your career. It's been great to see how it's all unfolded. Over time, I've gotten to know you much more for your entrepreneurial prospects. I'm saying, in your creative endeavors then even your athletic ones. But let's talk about the whole thing man. So, we always start these shows with an origin story. I'll let people start wherever they want, but it's always good if we can start somewhat around childhood. You're pretty young.
Derrick: I just turned 30.
Marcus: Yeah, you're pretty young.
Derrick: Man, 30 is old till you get to it, right.
Marcus: Yeah, that's right, exactly.
Derrick: That old am I. Okay, so let's start back I guess we'll start back at birth. Born in 1989 in Lancaster PA. It's kind of like in the middle of the state and grew up primarily it was me and my mother. For the first couple of years we actually lived at my grandparents’ home. My mom was trying to get on her feet and one of those things where she was a single parent and trying to make it work. Trying to make ends me and she had her parents who were pretty supportive and who really ended up playing a huge role in my life.
My grandparents had been there from day one and I spent a lot of time with them growing up. I think a lot of my values and no kind of worldview came from them. Just being super like moralistic and just honest people. They were just good people to the core.
Marcus: Can I ask you a question about that? Because she'll feel like there's definitely a thing for African Americans, where if you're fortunate enough to have that three generational upbringings. I had a similar deal, both my grandfather's we're not alive when I was growing up. But my grandmothers were and my mother's mother in particular was instrumental in raising me. Now I grew up in Brooklyn New York, but my family was from the south.
Marcus: Where were your grandparents originally from? Were you always in the PA area or like?
Derrick: My upbringing is weird, it's unique. So, I'm multiracial, my mother's white my dad's black. His family Is from Jamaica and my mom's side they're more like Pennsylvania Dutch like just like in the middle of the state and like literally across the street. It was an Amish farm and I used to get babysat by Amish people and ride in the horse and buggy.
Derrick: I am the only kid with some melanin in like a 10-mile radius. My grandparents are like super conservative, like just blue-collar, middle class type of environment. They weren't in any way ashamed of me. Like they completely like took me under their wing.
Marcus: You we’re their kid.
Derrick: Yeah, I know but that's you got to understand though. The dynamic of my mom having a mixed child in that area like it was not the norm. Like you got a thing about, I think people think Pennsylvania it's like Northeast more like liberal progressive. But when you get like from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, it's like Alabama.
Marcus: I get you brother; I totally understand that.
Derrick: Yes, it was an anomaly but I think that my grandparents did a great job of like bringing me into the family and making me feel like I didn't realize that I was only multiracial kid around like. I really think about that until I kind of got a little older I look back like and the pictures like, I'm the only black kid here. So, was that interesting growing up. I mentioned like the first couple of years we were at their house and very country and just kind of a different lifestyle. Then my mom kind of got on her feet and we moved to, I would say like section 8, type of housing and the environment was completely different.
Marcus: Still in Lancaster.
Derrick: It was in a place called Columbia and is about 15, 20 minutes away. But like my neighbors like everybody was black, right. So, it was like a huge contrast and I grew up in that type of environment for like about five or six years. My mom was working a lot, she worked about probably 50, 60 hours a week, driving forklifts at QVC. I was like a Latchkey kid. I spent a lot of time with like babysitters and like older kids and just trying to find my place. Through that, I would say I started to develop more of a diverse upbringing worldview. And from that experience and then about five years into it, my mom got on her feet again.
It was able to buy us a home, small little home, but that was more so like a white area. So, here I am like, flipflopping.
Marcus: This is incredible.
Derrick: It was like, okay I'm back in this environment and started. That was like my first time when I really started to experience racism. I got called the n-word
Marcus: So, that never happened in the Amish community, now you go into a place with those homes and it's a community and it's a white community and now you experience racism for the very first time. Experiencing that and my mom like even at my mom's job like they found out who her kid was calling me like a monkey and stuff all these things she was experiencing I was experiencing.
Derrick: By the way, I have to tell people this all the time. I'm saying like people always try to act like the south is so racist and the Northeast is not.
Marcus: It is so lie, like I've experienced so much racism.
Speaker 1: Okay, as what the big the point like you’re not alone I feel you on that.
Derrick: It's definitely prevalent. I would say out down in the south is a little bit more overt.
Speaker 1: Yeah, there is the history thing is the Confederate flag.
Derrick: There's the Mason-Dixon line, so I think you're like safe up here, you're really not kind of thing. So, that was a whole experience and then I got to like age 12 and then my mom got married. They were commuting to Philadelphia for work. So, we relocated to a city called Coatesville. Coatesville was a very unique place. It sits within Chester County, which I come to find out is like the richest County in Pennsylvania. But then you have Coatesville, which is like this distressed area like an old steel town. So, it kind of came and went with the steel industry.
So, we had this humble like little house and it wasn't in the hood, it was in the country. Now my neighbors were like in Section 8 and it was like a hood behind in my house. Then in the front of my house it was more like country, so it was like another diverse setting. But my school was like I would say it was like 50, 50 down the middle. So, like 50% of the students came from the city of Coatesville which is like majority African American or Latino. Then the rest came from like the surrounding areas more in like the country of part of that like Chester County affluent area. So, it was very diverse setting. I tried to again find my place.
Marcus: Now how old you with this form trying as kid?
Derrick: I’m like 12.
Marcus: You like 12, okay.
Derrick: So, coming into an environment where I'm the new kid again and like trying to find my way. A lot of how I did that was through sports. I've really started to like kind of make friends through football basketball baseball all those things. So, I started like build my core group of friends and we kind of stayed together really until this day. About three or four of my friends when I came into the 7th grade, were still cool to this day and we still do business together.
Marcus: That’s amazing.
Derrick: So, that was one of the things, I was like really just happy about having like that circle of friends you could trust and you understood what their motives were. Like it wasn't like they didn't come into the picture after the fact that fail and all those things. So, having that loyal friend base has been very good for me and my family. So, I ended up graduating from high school early about a semester early, enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2007.
Marcus: One thing you haven't said at all through this entire time: Were you like good at school?
Derrick: Oh yeah, I was.
Marcus: I just get this feeling like you're good at school.
Derrick: It’s my mom, my mom was really influential in my academics. Because it was like, okay you come home, you can't leave the house until the homework’s done, those type of things.
Derrick: You not on A honor roll, you don't play football and I was like “I’ve got to get good grades.”
Derrick: I was naturally like just diligent in my studies and could focus when I needed to. Like I will get my work done and then I would turn into the class clown, like how we had my work done. I was looking at my report cards the other day, my mom brought like this whole portfolio stuff from like sixth grade. I was A's and B's A's and B's. But like in the comments section, it was like Derrick continues to struggle to keep his focus and not disrupt the classroom. It was like a continuous pattern of that type of behavior. I think a lot of it was maybe looking for attention looking for a validation.
Marcus: Oh man.
Derrick: My dad not being really in the picture, my dad was locked up for about 6 years.
Derrick: So, like he missed from aged six to like 13ish.
Marcus: Big years.
Derrick: Yeah, like 12, 13, yeah big years.
Marcus: Those are big years.
Derrick: I know how influential those years are. So, I think I was like acting out. I always had like this behavioral issue during school. One of the things I forgot to mention was, when I was growing up and like that Section 8 housing and all that, we got the school district rezoned, right. So, we were like this rezoning for like a regular school district whatever. But it got rezoned and we got put into like the richest school district in the area. They had to send one bus to our development our neighborhood and the bus was like filled with all black and Spanish people.
We get to the school and we're like to outcasts there. So, we go into this environment that we're not privy to and so like me this may say me and you were like joking on each other right, like that's normal.
Marcus: It's normal.
Derrick: But at that school, it's bullying.
Derrick: We get labeled, we get put into this box and like I'm getting in trouble for things I never really got in trouble for. Like that was a whole another dynamic and then fast forward to where I met in like Coatesville like oh, I'm used to this. But it was like so much of the settings and environments were like shifting throughout my childhood. So, it was a lot of like I said trying to find my place and all that. So, like going back to your point yes, my mom was very influential in my academics. I always had to make sure that I was a priority. So, when I went to Georgia Tech, that was like more of an academic type school had some success in the athletic side. But more so I was looking at the type of degree I would have being in Atlanta being at a good school, having a chance to play early.
That was another thing for me. I didn't want to go to a huge school, wait and red shirt. I was like now I'm trying to get in play, hopefully get to the league or whatever it is but I don't want to wait.
Marcus: Georgia Tech really is right in the pocket with that, isn't it? It is man, it bis ACC, right?
Marcus: ACC, so it's certainly good enough, it's good enough.
Marcus: Great education, great location right in the middle of the city.
Marcus: Nice, smart.
Derrick: So, I mean a lot of this is God man just the way that this whole thing has been designed. Like I could say I made good decisions as much as I want, but a lot of it was just favor and by design in my opinion. So, ended up at Georgia Tech had a pretty successful college career. The one thing about Georgia Tech is that people don't probably don't realize is that it's an academic school first.
Derrick: So, yeah you might be a Division one athlete football player, but you're not necessarily getting treated any differently maybe even lower than the average student. So, when you go to class, you got to really show up and apply yourself. You can't just coach through. So, I learned a lot about time management at Georgia Tech and how to really engage and apply myself and be resourceful. Because you're on a 20-hour work limit, in terms of football that's the limit that the NCAA sets out for Division one athlete.
Derrick: We far exceeded that, like that was even a thought. Like we did 20 hours by Tuesday, having the balance of full class schedule was difficult. So, I had to really figure that out and I had a job the whole time I worked through college. Because I'm so glad the NCAA Law got changed in order to let kids market themselves and get endorsements. Because I had to take out a loan when I was in school on scholarship. Like I didn't have money, like my gas tank was always on zero miles to empty.
So, I had to take out a loan, I drove forklifts my freshman year. Like I had real life jobs. what I'm saying? Working and going to school and being an athlete. So, I learned how to I grew up real quick. By the way I'm an only child too. So, I had to learn responsibility at an early age. So, I think naturally I'm like-.
Marcus: I mean you were the man of the house.
Derrick: I'm like an old soul. I grew up faster than normal. But I think it's benefited me in the long run. So I had a really good career, learned about work ethic, time management through my time there and got to a place where I was in a position to be drafted in the first round by the Titans in 2010. came here and it was like coming to Atlanta was a culture shock, right. Like that was a big culture shock to me. I'm like, what is the South?
Marcus: Right. Wasn't the flood in 2010?
Derrick: The flood was in 2010. So, I caught a flight out right when it was happening. So, when I got to Nashville I was like, what is this, like what we are doing here. It feels like 1995 like it's like we were like 10, 15 years behind. That was another adjustment because I remember going out. When I first got here, I went out with a couple of the vets into the club. They were like I'm looking around I'm just like man this is kind of weak, I was going to Atlanta. So, we were like in the mix. We're partying with like Atlanta Falcons and like the Hawks and like big-time names. So, like that was my college experience. It wasn't a small-time college town.
Derrick: So, when I got here, we went out and I was like, this is weak. He looked at me like, hey this is a good as it's gonna get. I was like, what. I was like dude, I’m 21 years old I'm trying to like live and my priorities were a little different back then. So, I like literally took off every change I got to get on I-24 and shoot to Atlanta, for the day.
Marcus: It's easy.
Derrick: So, I feel like I was missing out some, because I had this in my mind, I had this image or goal of like, what I thought the NFL was.
Derrick: I thought it was like this certain lifestyle that you live. You go out, you go party, you buy things, you get the cars, you get the money, get the women all these things. I was painting this picture from what I was seeing when I was in Atlanta. Hanging out with those types of guys and not understanding that that was just the tip of the iceberg, like not understanding the foundation. I need to be laid and like all the work that needed to be put in to get to a certain point.
Marcus: Just a question about Georgia Tech, you were talking about that culture of it being an academic school first. And clearly your coaches and the staff knew you had the potential. I mean you're not the only person to ever go from Georgia Tech to the NFL, right.
Marcus: So, for those players who do have a shot at going to the NFL. What does that process look like from the interactions you have with the coaches? Do they spend any time like preparing you mentally emotionally, providing wisdom and mentorship or your kind of on your own in that? I might ask you throw anybody under the bus, I'm legitimately curious. Because you're so young and impressionable and this shift, you're about to make right you're working all the time. You've actually developed lots of great habits and perspectives, but you are about to shift into a very different world, a very different world very quickly.
Derrick: I was severely underprepared.
Derrick: I think that I'm saying that from where I sat at Georgia Tech. I'm probably a little bit more prepared than in the norm, but I felt severely underprepared like I didn't know how to write a check when I got to the league.
Derrick: You see what I'm saying? So, like I didn't understand all these different nuances of the league and what that meant and coming in the money and not having the financial literacy to really sustain that.
Derrick: So, you go into a point where, you're in college you get told what to do when to do how to do it. You are kind of in this bubble and then when you get to the league, you're like alright you're a grown man. Now you got to manage their own time, you got to be a professional. Nobody's telling you, hey when you come home you got to get a massage you got to get adjustment. Like you got to take care of your body, you are professional, you almost got to learn those things, right. So, for me there is no cookie cutter program that says, okay you're transitioning from the college world to the pro world, these are the tools and we're gonna equip you with. Not, none of that.
You just kind of get in, oh this is the league and you’ve kind of like got to feel your way through it. A lot of it depends on who you have around you.
Marcus: Yeah, feels like it's up the chance at this point, right. I mean who's around you and who you end up navigating to, feels like a lot of how you're gonna end up.
Derrick: Because the vultures come out. It’s like, oh a 21-year-old black dude, don't really come from much and he’s coming into money. Oh, that's an opportunity.
Marcus: Yeah, that's right.
Derrick: Look at you like, you're an opportunity you're a come up. So, you start to like get all this baggage which you like people just kind of like holding on for the ride. Like, wait what value are you bringing you’re just trying to eat off of me.
Derrick: So, when you're a kid you don't really realize that. You think people are there for you. I luckily found out early on that, that wasn't the case. That was a lot of fake love around my life and I tore my ACL my fourth game in my rookie year and that was a season ended. ACL to an athlete is like the three letters of death, you don't ever want to hear them. So, when you do hear that it's like oh my gosh it's like my career over how am I gonna come back from this I'm a first-round pick I got all these expectations on me, how does this affect me. I remember one of my boys from my hometown he was planning on coming down to the Eagles game.
I just tore my ACL the week before and he hit me up like, ‘hey man I'm trying to come down to the Eagles game’. Can I get some tickets? I texted back like yo I'm not playing I just tore my ACL. He texts me back and said, ‘Okay, that's crazy man. Hey but can I still get those tickets?’ I was like, that just was like a paradigm shift for me. Because it put everything in perspective like oh, you're fake you're fake you're fake. I really just thought that identify and look around on my team like oh these people are just here they're here for what they can get.
Marcus: What they can get.
Derrick: They don't really care about me as a person. So, from that experience of, like I would say it was my rock bottom. Because after I tore my ACL like it really started to shake things up in my life of who was I, who was Derrick Morgan. I had put everything into my athletic career and built that up and evolved as a person as a football player, not a person right. So, I was fishing in all these other areas in my identity wasn't a football. So, when that veil kind of got lifted and I was sitting in my living room with a cast on my leg and pain pills to my left and I was just like, okay what's going on what am I doing?
I started to sink into depression and started to really ask tough questions about who I was as a man. I really came out of that process like having a completely different world view, looking at myself like all right if that was your last game what now. That was hard, that’s was hard to go through and it was like it woke me up.
Marcus: But you asked that question. I mean, I think there have to be a large number of athletes. I mean you talked about those three letters being things that you don't want to hear, but the reality is we hear them a lot. A lot of athletes tear their ACL. It's like the amount of force and the shifting that you guys are doing and ACLs tear that happens. I just wonder how many athletes actually looked into the darkness and asked that hard question as opposed to just said, ‘I'm not worried about it I'm coming back’. Like didn't actually lean into the to the unknown around that.
Derrick: Because for a lot of guys to get to the NFL, it's been smooth sailing. You really haven't got hit with adversity. So, you haven't had you weren't forced to like ask those challenging insightful questions right.
Marcus: This is adversity in public.
Marcus: I'm not talking about social media; I’m talking about CBS.
Derrick. Very public.
Marcus: NBC, Fox, ESPN. I'm talking like SportsCenter. I'm talking like this is different, this is different.
Derrick: You can Google it now. Then you start hearing those words like “is this guy a bust and is he gonna pan out?” In my mind I mean like internalizing all this and so I'm just like “no no, this can’t be me”. So, I pick myself up out that hole from a lot of prayer and just like really trying to like look inside myself and understand who I was and derive my value outside of the game, right. Like that's what everything points to is like you're valuable because of your performance and what you do on the field. I wasn't on the field for nine months; it was just like what am I doing?
I think all the things that I'm doing now off the field like in business, invest in whatever it is, stemmed from that moment of waking up and realizing that football wasn't forever and taking an intentional path to better the better myself, right. It wasn't an overnight thing it was like, okay if I can't play this like what am I gonna do? Like I can't sit here and play Call of Duty all day even though I did. It was like that I had my son when I was 22, so I was quite young to like grow up and in that respect and so all these things started to come together in my life where I really had like stopped living so selfishly and really started to think big picture and long-term.
Now that I have a son like how does this my decisions affect him. So, all these things forced me to like really mature early on in my career. From that, I started to learn how to take care of my body like how to become a professional and I'm my own business I'm the CEO of me. I can't just go to the facility and do the bare minimum. I got it like as soon as I clock out I got to come home and I gotta ice my knee or I got an epsom salt bath. I got to get a massage or get acupuncture, all these things. It was a litany of things I had to stay on top of, because in the back of my mind I was like I can't be a bust I can't be a bust I can't.
Let down the expectations and my team and everybody else and not to say that was the most healthy ambition or motivation, but it was like something that I thought about a lot. I started to develop a routine and just a way of going about my life and evolving myself more than just a football player.
Marcus: That's amazing. Alright man, there's a lot of places we could go from here. Where do you want to go from here? Do you want to talk about going to getting your master’s in business?
Derrick: We could talk about.
Marcus: We can talk about a lot, but I mean to me it was an impressive thing because you were doing it and you were still playing while you were doing it. You were also starting to scratch your entrepreneurial itch and starting to look at things. So, I just found that to be really impressive. So, talk to me about that, talk to me about the decision to go get your master’s in business. What would it was like doing that while you're also playing an NFL schedule?
Derrick: It was hard very hard. I thought about quitting a couple of times. I’ll start back to the impetus of that like how that started was my finances. So, I came in and I looked at my accountant and sometimes it would be a couple weeks before I looked at it again. Then about year two year three - I’m 23 at this point. My advisor at the time started to introduce...
Marcus: There's a whole story.
Derrick: There another, we need another podcast for that. So, my advisor at the time started to kind of introduce these alternative investments, right. Like these cash flowing investments that could offset my expenses. I was like okay I need that, I like multiple streams of income.
Marcus: Sure, sounds great.
Derrick: It sounds amazing, who wouldn't want it. So, we started diversifying into these investments couple hundred thousand here couple hundred thousand there. I'm getting these coupons every month right. One company is like investing into Walgreens and CVS is, like it's I don't remember but it was something to do with that I don't care seems pretty safe. Then another one was a government contracting company that did like fire alarms for the military. I’m like okay seems boring enough.
Marcus: These things all sound good by the way.
Derrick: Exactly. Yeah, there's nothing like too exotic, this is like boring printing money.
Marcus: Yes, CVS Walgreens and government contractors, all sound pretty boring.
Derrick: Exactly, cool. We’ll look in today. So, I actually flew I remember flying out to DC and I met with the CEOs and sat in his office and shook his hand. He's like, yeah we have all these government contracts around the world and this is our pipeline all these things. So, for about 18 months I'm getting these coupons every month and I'm, okay this is good.
Marcus: What do you mean when you say coupon?
Derrick: Like dividend.
Derrick: So, every month getting these dividends, coupons were you wanna call it. I’m like cool this is working. So, I hit my friend, hey man look I'm getting dividends, you should look into this. So, look into this and he ends up coming in, he invests his money in and so I'm looking at their practice. They got about eighty athletes right, big-name guys if I tell you things, you'll know exactly who they are. They're putting like millions into these investments. I only put a couple hundred but they're putting millions in.
So, everything is going good. Then I remember one time I think 2013 the government shutdown hit right. So, I don't know if it was related or not related but the coupons dividends whatever you wanna call start drying up. I'm like, I'm checking my account, all right. I didn't get my payment this month. So, I come on, ‘hey did you get your payment?’ He is like, ‘no I didn’t’. Oh we got a call buddy. ‘Hey, what's up man what's up with these payments?. ‘Everything's good Derrick don't worry about it. A couple months the government shutdown slowing everything up, it'll be back online.’
I'm, alright sound makes enough sense to or three months go by no more payment. I'm like, ‘alright what's really going on.’ ‘Oh man, look the guy he's doing some shady stuff’. Long story short fast forward about six months later, all money's gone. Just gone like what happened gone. I'm just like, ‘what do you mean gone?’ ‘Oh, we're gonna file a lawsuit with SEC all these things.’ From that, it started to be revealed that our adviser was hand in hand with those guys.
So, that's where the whole firm blows up. They lose all our clients; they can't practice anymore in the financial industry. We're out a couple hundred thousand dollars some guys are out like six million. So, it’s like messy - it's like the traditional athlete and money story that you hear. That's like I didn't want to be that, but luckily the investment rule I always use is if I can't afford to lose it then I don't need to invest.
Marcus: Yeah right.
Derrick: So, it wasn't completely detrimental to me. It hurt; it was the learning experience but I was able to come back from it. So, from that process I'm like what never again I'm gonna understand what my finances are doing, I'm not gonna take a passive role. I'm gonna get involved in this thing I'm gonna learn it. Because I used to sit in meetings and just shake my head like, ok.
Marcus: You didn't know, you don't even know what they were saying really.
Derrick: At all, thinking a different language just like yeah uh-huh, okay you understand, yeah. It's like I don't wanna look dumb, I don't want to look like the traditional athlete with money. I don't wanna fit that stereotype. So, I would just sit there and just shake my head and at one point I don't know what happened but I just welcome like man this is dumb. Why am I acting like I know what the hell going on, I don't I'm gonna start asking question this is my money. So, I'm gonna take a more intentional active role and we'd be it means I'll wait run that back. Explain it to me like I'm six, I don't understand that.
I've been playing football on my life I'm an expert in this I'm not an expert in this. So, I started to really learn and dive into my finances and really that evolved.
Marcus: By the way all of a sudden now you're asking the question is that every wealthy person in the world asks.
Derrick: Explain it to me like, I'm six.
Marcus: Becuase the minute they start talking at like a graduate degree level, don't make sense.
Derrick: No, it’s my money.
Marcus: That's right.
Derrick: So, I really took an active role in educating myself on my finances and that led into investments and real estate. Then the next progression was getting my MBA. It was like let me take my knowledge to the next level. I'm in this position of being a professional athlete. We have certain access to people and in things that most people don't have access.
Marcus: Is that big status.
Derrick: It is.
Marcus: Lots of value in the status, no question.
Derrick: The saddest thing that I was finding out is that most of us don't leverage that until it's over.
Marcus: Right and it does go away. It's not forever.
Derrick: It goes away.
Marcus1: I mean you can leverage it to the next thing, right. You can keep it going if you're smart. If you know how to do exact Johnson did or right. Shaq is bigger now than when he played right. So, you can do it but you got to do it.
Derrick: You got to do it.
Marcus: You got to do. Absolutely, you got it.
Derrick You got to do it. It's like I'm in the MBA program and there are some retired guys in the program. I'm talking about like perennial Pro Bowlers like some Hall of Famers. They're like Derrick like I'm asking like I'm picking your brain. I was like, hey what are some what some advice that you would offer somebody like myself who's still in the league being that you're on this side.
The number one thing they said was, ‘do it now’. Do everything now. Don't just wait until you're done playing and take advantage of your off seasons, don't party and trick off money and waste time. Do stuff now. I'm looking at them like dang you play 15 years and made like 6, 7 pro-bowls like you got it all.
And all right let me take that to heart and I really resonated with me. So, going through the MBA program my whole thing was, let me find out A: what I like what I don't like and B, let me take my level of education to another level. Let me see look at my network and say, ‘okay who can I access, who can I like rub elbows with and start to develop and enhance my reach and my access in my network’.
So, from that program I started to really understand how to network and how to be strategic and who you align yourself with. When I first came in league, I hated it and I still kind of do like hate social settings. I'm more introverted, but like how to get out my shell and really like hey what do you do like shake hands and take business card, that type of thing. Because people wanted to be around you, they wanted to be around professional athletes and you can leverage that. So, from that and I think actually the first time we met was that South by Southwest.
Marcus: Was it?
Derrick: I’m sorry that’s the first time, like one of the second early time.
Marcus: Really like talked.
Derrick: The reason why I was there was me and my partner at the time, we had been looking at different entrepreneurial things that we could be involved in and been looking at like education and access the technology, hope you guys have an edit. Access to STEM education and like technology careers. Because there's like a huge skills gap, on what jobs are available as opposed to who's qualified for these jobs.
Marcus: I'm sure when you talk to Josh Mundy, y'all talked about that. The pivot tech stuff. Did he not talk to you about this?
Derrick: Oh wait, some the school he's doing, he talked about it briefly was like in passing. Let’s follow up on that.
Marcus: Okay. Let's put a pin in that, we got to make sure we get that. Let's keep going.
Derrick: So, I always looked at my platform like, all right I'm here. I got a certain level of influence. How can I leverage that for the good of others? Okay, we're doing football camps, we're going back to school drives and Thanksgiving handouts. I was like that's cool. But is that really making me then?
Derrick: No, you got all these systemic cycles that I've been intentionally put in place. We're in a certain level of influence as almost like the pinnacles of our communities and we're misusing our influence. We have outdated playbooks; we're still doing the same things. You're not seeing any change. So, I'm like okay what's something tangible, this is why we met at the Oasis Center.
Marcus: That's right.
Derrick: We're engrained: I mean my generation more so than your generation that we have to go to college to be successful.
Marcus1: Yeah, that's right.
Derrick: That's not the case anymore. So, I'm a big advocate of, hey if you can't go to school and get a career and a job, great but that's not the only avenue to success. You could be an entrepreneur, you could be a business owner, start your own things. Be your own boss. So, I started looking at different ways and pathways to success outside of or not outside of, but in addition to higher education. So, looking at different ways to like get access to technology and training for underserved youth. The reason why we were at South by Southwest was we took a hundred kids from HBCUs primarily to stop by Southwest, to get him in the room with decision-makers from Twitter and Google and MailChimp and Microsoft.
A lot of these kids got careers from that opportunity and that's like, okay that's something tangible that you can see. That's a pathway out of poverty and to build wealth. Because at that time I was looking at the racial wealth gap and like coming like wait, the average white household is worth like ten times.
Marcus: It's 10X.
Derrick: It's 10 X, 10 times more than the average black. I'm like oh like we're set up to fail. What are ways to build wealth for our community and technology, was one of those ways. So, that was why I was there and a couple other things spun off for that. Two years ago in Nashville, we did a technology camp, sports technology camp.
Derrick: Where the first half of the day was traditional football camp and then the second half was based around technology, flying drones, data analytics, programming all those four things. So, it was like I've always been like, not always but over the past few years like, how can I be more intentional with my influence? From that, I stopped actually -.
Marcus: No, no, look this is great man. Because I think this is a good segue into the present. I do I do want to get into food. I want to get in a food a little bit, but the reason why I mean look the reason why I'm so impressed with you and why I want to have you on the show. It's not because you're an NFL player, I mean it's because of everything else you've done while managing to keep up a career as an NFL player. You know what I'm saying? The three main interactions we've had now one was that Oasis Center for the co-create the Oasis Venture program. The second one was at South by Southwest, which was so impressive to me.
Because I don't know if that much about my story but like South by Southwest was the pivotal moment in my life. Like in terms of like really helping me, because I went in 2007 when Twitter launched. When Gary Vee went for the first year. So, I was there when it was like how big it was when you went. There was like 2,000 people when I went. It was small, when I went. You know what I'm saying? So, like everybody who's big right now, like I got a picture of me with Matt Mullenweg the guy who started WordPress. So, like everybody who's like big now was all just hanging out back in 2007.
So, the fact that you saw that and you used your status and your resources to bring all those kids there was massive impressive. Then, just by chance we met up at Nexus. I don't know if you saw my name on a list or something, but like you texted me - like man I'm at this. I'm at this thing too because I took a complete flyer. I was there by myself I think as you went with your lovely wife, but I was by myself man. I was like yeah; I was like I need a new experience. It was kind out of the box and then boom I see you there. You were like on the agenda you've got an actual thing that you were doing there.
So, talk a little bit about that. I wrote a whole thing about my Nexus experience. By the way I'm gonna send you a link to it. It was the first event that I had gone to that had that gender balance. You know what I'm saying? We're like there were as many women that really a little bit more women than men. Where it's about wealth and entrepreneurship and creativity like all the events I'll go to. You go to a lot of them too now, they're all like male-dominated. I was so struck by a man that Saturday morning, I wrote I have a weekly newsletter called The Grind and I wrote a newsletter called the Great Imbalance, about how good the energy at the event felt.
I think it was largely because it was led by women and like and the balance was there. Because like the women were like very empowered, very safe, very, you know what I'm saying? Like speaking their mind on stage incredible and like it's not enough for that. Anyway, so you were at this event with your wife and I didn't get to be a part of your session because I went to a different dinner. But talk about your session.
Derrick: So, first I spotted you we were in the UN.
Marcus: How you saw me?
Derrick: I scan the crowd I’m like there’s a black guy with dreads - I think I know him. Let me text him and see if he looks at his phone. That was crazy, but the reason me and my wife were there we were on like a food sustainability panel. Like it was me her and this guy. I think he had like a vegan dog food. There was another guy who was like really big into marine biology and saving the coral reef and all these things. So, that's kind of like, that hasn't always been our lane but it's kind of like getting into that. Maybe because climate change and the environment has such of a sense of urgency around it.
Marcus: Oh man.
Derrick: We're kind of actually getting into that and really educating ourselves like, oh she's like this is real. Like there's timelines on this thing, like if we don't change it's gonna be bad.
Marcus: It's gonna be bad.
Derrick: So, we're like kind of taking up this approach like, hey like we got to be more of an advocate for this. Because it started back in 2017, where I was just looking for ways to recover faster, that's all it was like. It was like, hey I'm asking these questions with my nutritionist and she's sending me all these articles, because she was plant-based. She was, like hey have you looked into this diet? I’m like hell nah. That don’t even have any protein, I’m going to shrivel up and lose my job. I’m just like, hey I got bills to pay. Like it's the reason we in this house like I got to keep lights on.
So, it was more so a fear on my end. I always try to keep an open mind. I started looking into this and I'm like, okay I like to read the research I don't like to like; I like to think critically about issues, I don’t like to adopt people's opinions.
Marcus: For yourself.
Derrick: Form my own opinion about it and I'm looking at this research, I’m like okay I'm looking at this article in this article, okay this makes sense according to this data. Do you want to stop?
Marcus: No, we keep going.,
Derrick: Okay, I love it, you push through.
Derrick: So, I'm looking at this data and me this looks compelling I’m a try it out. Then it a day the worst is gonna happen is I'm gonna lose some weight and I needed to lose some weight at the time, because weigh-ins were coming. I was in the offseason, but when you come back and you report you got a weigh-in that you got a here by and I was about 5 to 6 pounds overweight. In the NFL it's like $700 a pound. It’s like I’m gonna just do this, what happens. So, I started to like gradually cut out the red meat. I was like a steak a week hamburger, a week type of guy.
Derrick: I can't say, I'm in that no more.
Marcus: Because it Nexus man, yeah that event like, because it was the only topic they really drilled home because it was global. I mean and that was the thing that just kept hitting. It was like climate change climate change climate change. I became friends with Adam plant-based addict on Instagram. So, I met him at the event which you at the bar and then we hooked up later and I was just like yeah, I need to do this. So, I'm 45 days in.
Derrick: Congrats. That’s awesome. My wife would be proud.
Derrick: By the way we got to get her on here.
Marcus: Yeah, we do have to get your wife on it.
Derrick: Yeah man, so I tried it, I just start cutting out red meat, cut out poultry. I'll tell you there's the biggest difference I notice is when I cut out dairy. Dairy was like there is not really for us. It's not really for us and like you got think about like why are we drinking another animals milk?. At the end of the day like I'm grown like, we drink milk to the mature and it is filled with like growth hormone and proteins and amino acids. Like it's full of that, because you need it to kind of like jumpstart your system and grow and evolve. But like, why am I drinking a cow's milk or goat's milk? That's not really for me right, that's for their young.
So, I'm like okay that that makes sense conceptually and I feel the difference in my body. I don't have as much mucus and inflammation in my body. I got my blood tested about six months on the diet, because we're all aware of placebo. I was like I got more energy but let me like really lift up the hood and see what's going on. Bro, like when I tell you all of my levels were A1 like just perfect. I was like, oh I had high blood pressure, I had high inflammation levels. My cholesterol was kind of high and so I took the test everything was like back at a really great level. I was like oh this is working. It coincides with how I feel.
So, from that point huge believer and my wife’s a Cordon Bleu trained chef not plant-based, but just chef. She has 15 years of experience and she does it up. Her Instagram is chef Charity Morgan, check her page. Because when you look at her food is like oh there's no way that's vegan but like literally, I got a Caesar salad sitting in the car. That's probably spoiling right now because it’s hot. But like she has a real talent, bro. So, she got on board and started cooking plant-based and it was game over. I was like, I could do this for the long run.
I started bringing in my food to the facility at the Titans facility and guys knew that my wife could cook. Because we had cookouts and gathering just like Charity can throw now. So, I'm in the facility with my little, my food and guys are looking like yeah what you got. I’m like, salad a bowl a burger. They'll like, oh the Charity cook that. I was like, yes. Let me get a piece. I mean vegan right there like not it ain't vegan. I’m like it's vegan. So, that was running time What the Health came out. You remember that?
Derrick: So, what helped was like real prevalent then, so people isn't it like I'm gonna be vegan. Like people then they're just eating bread, I'm like you’re gonna die, going through training camp like you're gonna kill yourself. So, guys are looking at my food like hey, can I get a meal? and I'm like yo this ain't no meal planning service. Anyway, I called her. I was like, hey guys are like ask him to get on like the meal plan. She's like there is no meal plan, I'm like: They’re willing to pay for it. She is like, okay. She like it literally started with like three guys four guys five guys and then by the end of the season she was cooking for like 17 guys.
Derrick: Full plant-based, two meals a day and we actually had our best season that year. We went to the play offs, like won a playoff game, hadn’t done that in 15 years. So, it was a really cool story man and cool journey and like that kind of brought us to the point of like we did a ambassador deal with Beyond Meat. We were in this Game Changer’s documentary.
Marcus: So, you're in that?
Derrick: We're in that.
Marcus: I can't wait. Did it come today?
Marcus: First, I was about to say because I was waiting for that.
Derrick: Yes today.
Marcus: That's amazing, I'm gonna watch it tonight.
Derrick: Thank you.
Marcus: Yeah of course.
Derrick: They really chronicled that story and from that we've been kind of like just being more influential in the plant-based community. That's how we ended up at Nexus talking about food sustainability and like what are the plans going forward type of thing. So, it's a huge movement. My wife has done a very amazing job, it like kind of positioning us and having us be a part of the conversation.
Marcus: Unfortunately, all this stuff is really kind of coming to, here it is October 1st 99 degrees outside Nashville right now, right. We just had Greta kind of blow the whole world up right now with the climate strikes and everything. But the thing at Nexus that really did hit me was of all that there are three things you can do that are not striking or like talking about it all the time and making people annoyed. Three things, you can do in your life that would actually make an impact. 1. don't fly as much right. 2, don't have a kid because the population is a big impact and the third was eat plant-based diet. You know what I mean?
Really not even like go full plant-based but like just decrease the amount, yeah just decrease the amount that you eat. I just walked away from that like; well I'm not flying as much anymore I'm not gonna have any more kids I don't think. So, what can I actually do and I had already been on this health journey. So, it was like yeah that it seemed like it made sense. So, I did some research for about thirty days and my wife and I talked about and we were like cool - we’re doing this.
Derrick: Your wife on too?
Marcus: Yeah. She's much more than in though in the like less than normal as opposed to like full-on. We have different personalities I'm a very full on kind of. You know what I mean? Like I'm doing it I need to just do it. So, the two things I've noticed one is inflammation so like in running right. Like 'm 43 years old, for the last ten years I've always felt running in my knees and I'm not feeling it in my knees in like the last two weeks. You know what I'm saying? So, there's definitely something about the recovery piece, there's definitely something around the inflammatory agents in meat and dairy.
I don't know what it is, but I'm not as inflamed as I was. So that's for sure true.
But then also just like just the peace of mind that comes from knowing. I know the realities of the food industrial complex and that it is a massive contributor to the climate change stuff. If I'm opting out of it, that's at least a daily choice that I'm making that is not contributing to what could potentially be one of the biggest crises we have as humans that we were sort of run into. Oh, the carbon footprints flying is, the carbon footprint of flying is really bad man. Yeah, it's a big one. But Greta has to fly all over the world to do these climate strikes.
So, like again the number one thing is really plant based. Like in terms of all the things we could really do like individually to make a change, it's the number one thing we could do. You could do it you don't feel like talk about it all the time like we're talking about a show right now. But like I'm not I don't talk about it. It's not like a thing I'm talking about, but like it is the one thing we could do that if each one of us did it would it would lower the carbon footprint. Just because the amount of it's just not good.
Marcus: You're saving so much like amounts of water and production of food like slaughtering of animals like just from your diet. You're saving so much.
Derrick: It's like a ripple effect.
Marcus: Once you know it, it feels so much but it feels so much better to like not be contributing to it. Like once it and accept it as your truth. Other people like they come in contact with it with information and they don't necessarily accept it as truth, which is fine whatever. But like for me when I look at this stuff and I look at what's going on and it's October 1st it's 99 degrees out and I’m like, this seems like a problem to me.
Derrick: You're talking about cognitive dissonance.
Derrick: It’s like here is the fact. This is in my mindset. This is cognitive.
Marcus: Humans are unique in our ability to deny reality.
Derrick: Yeah, and I think it’s about self-awareness.
Derrick: How you can look at certain patterns and like habits that you've been in like your whole life. Like we all go through programming for like the first seven years of our life. Some of those stories we tell ourselves are true some are false and you kind of live your life based on those stories in there and it's like you're on autopilot. You wake up and it's like, whoa like I started meditating a lot and like my self-awareness on things started to increase. I'm like, wait why do I do that, why do I think that way. Because something my mother told me or my grandparents and you start to like deconstruct things.
Marcus: You start cutting these things off, like that's actually not me it's just a shirt I wore for 20 years. But it's not like I can take that shirt off and I could put a different shirt on, totally yeah it's no big deal.
Derrick: Yeah man, and I think that's something that we lack today in our society. Because there's so many distractions right. It's like there's so many ways things are distracting from actually having to deal with yourself and to really understand who you are and what you represent. It's like dude like, sometimes I even delete Instagram off my phone. That felt good. Like I'm not on the internet comparing myself to people and looking at others. So, it's like it's one of those things where the more self-aware you are, the more easily it is to take in new information and properly apply it to your life. I mean I think that's something that people need to be more aware of.
Marcus: So, what's the future look like? You are recently retired congratulations on a great career and thank you for serving it out here in Nashville with the Titans.
Derrick: Felt like a sentence sometimes.
Marcus: I was thinking more like thank you for your service as opposed to like serving of a bid.
Derrick: I appreciate that; I thank God. It's a blessing to be able to stay in one spot for your whole career, have some consistency, lay down some roots - it's a blessing.
Marcus: Yeah. So, what's the future? I mean I sort of know, but like what's the future.
Derrick: You know? tell me.
Marcus: I mean I know some of the things you're doing.
Derrick: For me a lot of what I'm doing now came from really waking up on my financial side. I think we may have talked about this before, about the private prison industry. I watched a documentary, ‘The 13th’.
Marcus: Yeah, that's a hard documentary to watch.
Derrick: That right there did it for me and I watched that. I think this was right around the time or like Kaepernick, the heart of Kaepernick stuff yeah and on in the police brutality was just raging. Like it was just still like a divide in the country and blue lives matter black lives matter all these different devicive and strategies and whatever you want to call them. So, I watched that documentary and I found out about the private prison industry ‘GEO’ group Corp Civic it I think Core Civic maybe headquartered in Nashville.
Marcus: It is.
Derrick: So, finding out that my money that's in the stock market could unknowingly be invested in these companies. Did not sit right with me, I had to call my advisor after watching them was like hey make sure I'm not in these companies and I don't know what my money is doing. I don't know where it's spending the night. That didn't sit right with me. I'm like I want to know what his door I want to touch and feel it. So, from that watching that learning more started to look at different ways in which I could pair what I was doing on the philanthropic side with what my money was doing in the private markets. Try to find the way to merge all these efforts and resources together.
Marcus: So, what you're basically saying is you didn't want to live a compartmentalized life. We're over here, you're saying one thing. But overhear you're unknowingly doing something different.
Marcus: Life's better that way, isn't it?
Derrick: Yeah, I want to do things that align with who I am and my values. So, like I think that you talk about outdated playbooks I think we have a somewhat outdated playbook on philanthropy.
Marcus: Totally. I'm so over it.
Derrick: What’s the guy's name? Was Andrew Carnegie or James Andrew Carnegie?
Marcus: Andrew Carnegie.
Derrick: Andrew Carnegie like steel pioneer from like the 20th century. He wrote this thing called the ‘Gospel of Giving’. It was basically our playbook for the last hundred years on how to do philanthropy.
Marcus: Pretty good, that it lasted a hundred years.
Derrick: A hundred years.
Marcus: Isn’t it time?
Derrick: To do something more innovative, like what are we doing. So, I started looking at these things I'm like okay I got this, this side over here how can we combine these efforts and be intentional about it? I started to like discover the world of impact investment. I'm like what's that. Like, is that another form of charity? Oh, no it's not it's actually investment, you actually make a return on your money. Like you could actually align your investments with your values.
Marcus: Also, incentivize sustainability, which I think is the most important thing. How do you incentivize that these good things are sustainable and not every year coming back? Like okay we did all this good stuff, give us another million dollars.
Derrick: Right. It's like you don't want it so much dependence. It's like you can set these like you said, you can set these companies up and these initiatives up to be self-sustainable so, they can go out and empower other people and empower themselves. So, I started to transition my money that was in my portfolio to impact investments. So, the things that were like affordable housing or eco-friendly materials for construction and technology or you know, training for underserved entrepreneurs and all these things. I was like, okay I could sleep good at night. I feel better about what my money is doing and how it's working for me.
But at the same time, I'm over here in the silo only making so much progress. I've always been thinking about like I always thought about how could people of influence and like-minded individuals who have somewhat of a notoriety or a platforml everage that come together, create a group or a community of like-minded individuals someone like a Nexus, right? But like more like in like I would say like the athlete entertainer space influencer.
Marcus: Leveraging that status, right? I mean the status is there and it's just going - I mean we saw the impact of the status when Colin put a lot on the line. That just kind of shows you well this is the power of status. I mean if it was me, it wouldn't have made anywhere near –
Derrick: What’s he over there kneeling for?
Marcus: Exactly, right but it's because of who he was as an athlete. We hold athletes in very high status and so yes, I really wished someone would forget to figure this out. This would be great because not all value as monetary and when you talk about where is their diversity and power or where do black people in America have power? It's in sports and entertainment. That's where it is. So, how do we leverage that power, that status to do anything?
Derrick: Have you seen, have you read the book Forty Million Dollars Slaves? It goes into that heavy, like yeah, we're making so much money but we're still on a plantation. It was just really dissecting that and like how we've been just kind of like been fed and kept comfortable and you kind of get disconnected from your community. You kind of like turn your own back on it. It's like even “I'm getting out the hood”. I get it, get out of the hood but come back, right? It’s one of those things where how we had like this competitive nature about us in sports and really to go even a level deeper. It's really in the black community -what's that crabs in a barrel metaphor? It goes back to like that and like the Willie Lynch letter, yeah how to divide the slave population based on complexion and hair type. Like creating this hierarchy and separating people.
Marcus: Well it is playing into fundamental; I would go a step further and I would say that dynamic absolutely exists in the the black community. It's a play on human psychology because status is a big deal to us because status signals safety. You know what I'm saying? Like that's really where it comes from, this is the house Negro, field Negro thing. You understand? But again, it's not isolated to the black community, it's a wiring of humans where we see status as being something that is key to our survival. You follow what I'm saying? Because this was something that was done to poor white folks. Like there was no difference between poor white folks and black folks in America, except if you tell the poor white folks that they're somehow better, you’re really only giving them more status. Now they can say “Okay well, at least I'm not that”.
Derrick: That's right, why the killed the brother from the Black Panthers, what was his name? He was like 23 years old.
Marcus: What does that say?
Dez: It’s over an hour.
Marcus: Okay, okay. This is important. Yeah this is really important, let's wrap on this.
Derrick: So, what's the guy's name? They killed him. He was a part of the Black Panthers,
Marcus: Which one? Because they killed several. It wasn’t Huey was it?
Derrick: Not Huey. The reason I bring that up is because he was trying to unite –
Marcus: Oh, Fred Hampton.
Derrick: Yes! He was trying to unite black people white people Spanish people whoever, into like one United group. They killed him because that's dangerous.
Marcus: When you try to show people that were obviously so much more alike than we are unalike.
Marcus: By the way this goes back to science, right? Like if you look at genetics. the difference between if you look at the entire spectrum of humanity the difference between the “Whitest person” and the “blackest person” is like microscopic genetic difference from like us and every other species on this entire planet Earth. You get what I'm saying? So, like this is all narrative. This is all narrative because at the end of the day, I'll tell you what? None of that narrative is going to help us overcome climate change.
Marcus: So, what are some of us going to survive it? Are some not gonna survive it?
Derrick: It affects us all. It's a great point and I think you kind of see it more, it's more exposed in our community because of like the cards we've been dealt.
Marcus: Correct. That's absolutely true.
Derrick: To get us out of this position that we've been in for the last couple of hundred years there needs to be a very intentional effort towards unity, understanding group economics and how to work together and build businesses and circulate our dollars in our community, all these things.
Marcus: Yes, I agree.
Derrick: So, I'm transitioning. I say that to say this. What I'm doing now, in the opportunities on space, impact investment space, whatever you want to call it is basically trying to do the things that I've been doing on my own but at a larger scale. Trying to bring together some type of community of like-minded people who have a certain level of social cache and influence to aggregate all these resources and really do impactful stuff at a great scale. That's the mission that I'm on, that's the mission that me and my team is on and that's the narrative that we're trying to push. That's what we're trying to accomplish.
Marcus: That's what's up, that's what's up. Is it going well so far?
Derrick: It's going well, I mean it is something that I wake up to every day looking forward to. Yeah, it's something that gives me purpose, gives me a reason to wake up and go to work and have fun man.
Marcus: Well no pressure but we need you to be successful. No pressure man, so if this platform or anything that I can do can be helpful, let me and let us know.
Derrick: For sure, same here.
Marcus: We're behind you and we're super proud of you man.
Derrick: Appreciate it. I appreciate that. Thank you for having me on. I think we keep this conversation going offline and really in the Nashville communities, bringing this stuff together man.
Marcus: Absolutely man, thanks for doing this.
Derrick: Appreciate you having me on.
Marcus: All right, until next time. Peace.