Catching Up with Former NFLPA Player Reps: Tony McGee
Tony McGee played 11 years in the league, while also serving as a player representative. The tight end was named to the Bengal’s all-time career receptions list during his nine seasons with them, ranking at number seven. We were able to catch up with him about his experiences as a player rep, his time outside of the league, and family life.
Q: What is your current career?
A: I am the owner of HNM Global Logistics, we are an international freight company located in Orlando Florida. I also own a Dunkin Donuts in my home town in Indiana.
Q: How would you described your experience leaving the game?
A: I was fortunate enough to get 11 years so I wouldn’t say it was bad, but it’s still a little jarring because all of a sudden you have to figure out, “What am I going to do next?” Sometimes you think you have it all figured out – I had a lot of opportunities, but I really didn’t have it all figured out. I would say you’re probably not as prepared as you think you may be.
Q: What was the impact of the player reps during your time serving?
A: It was a voice. Back when I played, the union was at a turning point where guys were really starting to speak up about things that they didn’t feel were right. They started to see some corrective action taking place when they went into the next collective bargaining session, such as cutting down the amount of practice time. When I came in my rookie year, we put pads on twice a day and we hit twice a day. Now I don’t even think they were pads in training camp, so thing have gotten a lot better from a work environment situation. I think in the past they looked at you as an employee, but it’s a special type of job, and you have to treat it as so. I think the things we did back then, you can see benefiting players in the league today.
Q: How has the experience of being a player rep benefitted you personally today?
A: Personally, I think the network was really strong. You got the opportunity to network with a lot of dynamic, intelligent players and league officials. Secondly, I think it helped me from the standpoint of being a business owner. I started to develop my presentation skills, understanding what goes into presentations at meetings, and really understanding how to assimilate into that culture as you start to graduate from being a professional athlete and evolve into a business owner.
Q: Are you still close with any of the player reps today?
A: I wouldn’t say close – the problem is the older you get, the further you get away from the game. Now I’m getting to the point where you look back at your legacy and you want to reconnect. But generally speaking, [I’m not the best at keeping in touch], some guys are better at that than I am.
Q: What was your favorite meeting site?
A: Definitely Maui. First class trip – you can’t beat that.
Q: What advice would you give to current players today?
A: The advice that I would give them, that I probably didn’t take myself, is study and understand the collective bargaining agreement. Secondly, really spend the time talking to your constituents, so when you go [to places like Maui] you go there with a purpose. Not just to vacation, but to really get some things done, and let the players voices be heard. You really want players to go not for their personal benefit, but really to speak for their constituents. Relationships are important, but actually getting something done and accomplished, and being a mouthpiece for the current players – that’s what they elected you to do.
Q: Do you have children, and if so – are they interested in sports?
A: Yes, I have one daughter. She’s a tennis player, but she’s more interested in being a doctor.
Q: How has the leadership position of being a player representative helped you be a father?
A: I would say impressing upon her the importance of really understanding what it takes to present to people. How you accept information and take that and disperse it back out. I think it helped me give her some leadership qualities as well, and advice.
Q: Have you taken advantage of transition services?
A: Yes, I’m a member of the Trust – I’ve done a couple different programs through that including the brain and body assessment. The Trust has been huge for me with a number of different things. I’ve been involved, but not quite as much as I would like.