While playing with the Indianapolis Colts for nine seasons, Gary Brackett helped the club to a Super Bowl XLI win. He also served his fellow teammates on and off the field as a player representative for three years, were he proudly helped negotiate the current CBA. Brackett reflects with us on his time in the league, as well as his family and life after retirement.
Q: What is your current career?
A: I am a restaurateur, I have 10 restaurants in Indianapolis. Nine are a franchise that I own – Stacked Pickle. The 10th is a steak house called Char Blue in downtown Indianapolis. [I have been in the food business] for about five years.
Q: How would you describe your experience leaving the game?
A: I had a bunch of support [leaving the game]. I was already familiar with a lot of the offerings that the NFL and PA assisted you with during the transition. So I utilized one of those offerings and went back to school and got my MBA at George Washington University. I feel like after I got my degree it really empowered me to take on the challenge that I’m in today.
Q: What was the role of the player reps during your era?
A: The impact, I think, was huge. I was there when we negotiated the now current contract. The first round it was delayed, and I remember it being a very intense situation. Some of the decisions that we made have long term ramifications, and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish – the [things] that we fought for and the result today.
Q: How has being a player rep benefited you today?
A: I think anytime you’re dealing with big business you know there are a lot of different parts, and I think being a player rep let me really understand that there’s a lot of different thought processes about one solution, and there is a lot of different ways to get to nine: eight and one, six plus three, five plus four. Sometimes you have to be open minded about the end result. It opened my mind up to the means of the end result.
Q: Are you still close with any of your fellow player reps today?
A: I played with Jeff Saturday for a number of years, David Thorton – I played with him, he was a rep in Tennessee. I talk to Takeo Spikes and some of the other guys. But once you start having kids the whole social life kind of goes away, so being a family man takes up a lot of my time.
Q: What was your favorite meeting sight?
A: I really enjoyed Marco Islands. I had a horrible plane story when we went to Maui, it took me about 18 hours [to get there] one time. My family enjoyed it, but me not so much. So Marco Islands was a beautiful place and everything we did was great – and it didn’t take me 18 hours to get there.
Q: Sounds like a funny story, can you elaborate on your Maui trip?
A: Going to Hawaii, we got delayed in Chicago. We were supposed to go to Denver and fly straight over, but because of the delay we had to get two more flights in. When we get there, our bags don’t land so [my family] had to go to Wal Mart and buy outfits for three or four days. I’m wearing Wal Mart gear so a lot of the guys are telling me how frugal I was from dressing in Speedos to Hanes and everything else Wal Mart has. And my bags didn’t land for a couple more days after I got there.
Q: You mentioned you have children – what are their names and are they interested in sports?
A: I have Gabrielle, Gary Jr., and Georgia. They are [interested in sports]. Basketball and soccer My son is five and he’s playing flag football for the first time this year.
Q: How has the leadership position of being a player rep helped you be a father?
A: A lot of the time as a father and also as a player rep, you don’t always make the most popular decision but you fight for the best decision; what’s good for one person may not be good for another. However, you’re trying to look at the totality and what’s fair for all players involved, and I think that’s what you do as a family man and father as well.
Q: What advice would you give to current players?
A: I would tell them to get involved. I think there are a lot of resources available to them to help get involved and then they can make a change. It’s one thing to sit back and complain about what’s going on; be the voice behind the change. I think when other folks didn’t like the way things were going, they got involved and they made a difference. I think they have the ability to do so, I would encourage them to be involved and be engaged in all facets of their life – with their finances, their careers post football, with their union and being active members. Get involved and make a difference.
Tags Former Players