Q: What thoughts were going through your head as your football career was coming to an end?
The first thought was obviously, ‘This is scary,’ because I've committed so much of my life to this sport. In some ways, it was all I ever knew. It helped shape me into the person I am today. A few months after, I was able to look back on my career and know I made the right decision moving forward.
Q. What kind of challenges did you face during your transition?
My first year out of the league was extremely difficult. An injury forced me to retire, so the hardest part for me was having to go through the grievance process to recoup part of my contract, having to pay for medical bills out of pocket, etc. It was very difficult for me to navigate the business aspect of the NFL.
Q. How did you discover what your passions were outside of the game?
I always told myself I was never going to let the game of football define me as a person. I always found something in the offseason to keep me busy, whether it was snowboarding, scuba diving, playing basketball, etc. I tried to keep myself busy outside of film study, weightlifting, and running.
Q. Tell us about the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation and the work you do.
The Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation was started in 2015, around the same time my little cousin Harper was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Launching the Legacy Project is definitely my proudest moment post-football. It went from a small, hometown, charity football camp fundraiser to now a national level campaign I am running.
I always knew I wanted to use my platform I had from the NFL for good. Originally, raising awareness and money for cystic fibrosis was just an offseason project of mine. I loved it so much, and I saw there was a gap in the foundation I was raising money for. Families and patients living with cystic fibrosis weren't getting the help they needed. I wanted to create my own foundation to actually help them. I started the Legacy Foundation and now we're doing about a $1.2 to $1.3 million dollar project where we deliver these Afflovest to people all across the country.
Q: Are there skills you learned on the football field that translated over to your current endeavors?
A lot of the skills I learned playing football transferred to real life. From dealing with adversity and persevering through tough times, to communication and leadership. Pretty much anything and everything I learned in the game of football I apply to my daily life.
Q: Tell us about how you made the decision to originally go on Becca’s season of ‘The Bachelorette.’
I had watched the show before and knew a little bit about it. For me, I think going on ‘The Bachelorette’ was one of the first things I ever did solely for myself. Looking back, I realized I gave everything I had to the game of football. I put my personal life on the back seat. For once, it was nice to really be able to focus on my personal life and finding time to just date. It was an unbelievable experience.
Q: After ‘The Bachelorette’ and ‘Bachelor in Paradise,’ people had a lot of assumptions and judgements about you, your personality, etc. What do you hope people learn about you by watching your season of ‘The Bachelor?’
I'm looking forward to everybody getting to know me for who I really am. That’s one thing I'm really hoping for out of these next few months. Looking back on ‘The Bachelorette’ and ‘Bachelor in Paradise,’ you don’t get a full picture of who I am, rightfully so. I’m excited for the opportunity to share my experience with everyone.
Q: What brought you to The Trust, and what were you hoping to get out of it?
Since my career ended with an injury grievance, my NFLPA lawyer told me about The Trust, and wanted to make sure I was capitalizing and using all the benefits provided to me.
After visiting The Trust on my wraparound visit, it was everything and more I had ever expected. Just like anything in life, I wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of it. The Trust and the NFLPA have done a great job of setting up this transitional period for players like myself who don't really know exactly what's next, but know they want to continue to work hard and bring some of the same attributes they brought to the game of football to passions that they have in life.