Catching up with Former Player Reps: Anthony McFarland
Anthony McFarland played nine seasons in the league, spending time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. He helped each team to a Super Bowl victory – with the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII, and with the Colts in Super Bowl XLI. The defensive tackle also served as a player representative for two years. We caught up with McFarland to reflect on his time in the league, his player rep experiences, and his family.
Q: What is your current career?
A: I work for ESPN as a college football analyst, I’ve been doing this for four years.
Q: How would you describe your experience leaving the game?
A: Leaving the game was pretty simple. I played nine years, and the opportunity presented itself to play number 10 – it wasn’t financially lucrative enough so I turned it down and moved on with my life.
Q: What do you think the impact was of the player reps during your time serving?
A: I think the player representatives play a key role. I don’t think as a younger player you really can grasp it, but the older you get the role becomes more vital. I know myself, as a young player I thought, “Oh that’s another task I have to do that’s going to take up more time.” But the older you get, you start to realize that these are the key people that help change the game, and you start to pay more attention to it. Now, the game has gotten so much younger – there aren’t as many veteran players on each team. So the league is made up of a lot of young guys, and I think that’s difficult from a player stand point. [Many younger guys] don’t understand the impact of previous reps, they really need to be educated about the business about the NFL.
Q: How has the experience of being a player rep benefitted you personally?
A: Personally, the ability to work with people, leadership skills, and things of that nature. When you’re a player rep, you’ve got to be able to gather information and communicate that back to your constituents in the locker room and discuss it – from that standpoint it’s very helpful. I am a business management major, so I had to work with a lot of people. It definitely helped me having majored in that, and all these things helped me with my people skills.
Q: What was your favorite meeting site?
A: Everybody loves Hawaii, but really any place that you can get away from everything.
Q: What advice would you give to current players today?
A: Become more educated about what’s going on – really simple. And if they don’t, the cycle continues of what’s going on from a business standpoint. If players don’t know what they want to do, they can’t give De Smith direction.
Q: Do you have any children? If so – are they involved in sports?
A: Yes, I have two kids. My nine year old loves to dance, and my six year old is still getting out of the Mickey Mouse phase.
Q: How has this leadership position helped you be a father?
A: From a leadership standpoint, the skills and ability to deal with different people and personalities that you have to deal with – especially with kids. It’s the same way you deal with 53 guys on a team – everybody’s got a different skill set, a different temperament and mindset. You have to be able to listen and get the information from them.
Q: Have you taken advantage of any of the NFLPA transition services since retirement?
A: I’ve done a lot of the health benefits through the Trust.