Hello, folks. Today’s paper includes a lengthy feature about NFL teammates who are in business together. I hope you have a chance to read it if you haven’t already. It centers on Redskins defensive end Kedric Golston and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. Their families opened The Studio MBS, a Pilates and dance studio, in Ashburn about 16 months ago.
I enjoyed reporting this feature because I got to know Golston, Alexander and several other players away from the sport. They are more than athletes who perform for our entertainment on Sundays, and I hope that came through in the story.
Most of the best conversations I’ve had with players are about topics other than football. Get Chris Cooley talking about his pottery, for example, and he’ll light up. The same goes for Rex Grossman and Indiana University basketball. Players have outside interests, just as we have hobbies or pursuits outside our jobs.
Business – and life, really – is about relationships. Over the last year, I’ve found myself becoming more interested in that. Whether it’s the relationship between Robert Griffin III and his father, or Alexander and Golston building on their friendship by going into business together, those bonds define us.
Trust is a major element in that regard. That applies to any business partnership, of course. In the context of today’s story, players’ trust formed playing football – and any player will tell you football is a game of trust.
The stakes are high, then, in business when a lot of money is involved.
Golston and Alexander, mindful of problems money can cause, divide the costs and profits of their business 50/50.
“It’s been pretty good because obviously we have a lot of the same values, outlooks on life, same principles and communicate,” Alexander said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Before we even went into business together, we kind of sat down, all four of us, and went through how are we going to, when we come across a disagreement, how do we figure it out? What’s the voting going to be like? So we don’t have couple vs. couple or men vs. women, husband vs. wife.
“There are a lot of different things that can kind of mess some relationships up when you have a business, dealing with that and some important decisions. I think the biggest thing we’ve done is communicated well. We all understand what the purpose of business is, and what our goals are matchup. People don’t have different agendas, and I think that’s what has helped us kind of stay together.”
When Nate Collins and Victor Cruz started their Young Whales clothing line, they had lawyers draft agreements to help divide profits and guide them through other financial issues.
“We did it the business way with everything because we are friends, and you always hear the horror stories how even family members end up being so upset over business deals and when it comes to involving money,” Collins said. “But me and him, when we talked about it, it was just one of those things that we really just wanted something else to occupy time other than thinking about football all the time.
“At first, it was just us being men, just being like, ‘Yo, we’re not going to screw each other on this.’ But once we started getting it rolling and the money was coming in, we went about it the right way. We got lawyers and we got papers signed just so we wouldn’t have to deal with or worry about anything like that. I don’t know, an outside source coming in and getting in either of our ears, and, ‘Hey, you should come and do this,’ – just protecting our investment because we both put money into it. We just wanted to go about it the right way and make sure it was going to go right and things right now are ending up going well.”
For a project as self-contained as Bernard Pollard’s Bourré app, his friendship with Ryan Moats was enough to make him comfortable investing what he would call only “a good chunk of money.”
“I always reminded him, ‘Ryan, if this game don’t do well, I’m going to come to your house and knock on your door and beat you up in front of your family,’” Pollard said, laughing. “As teammates, it goes deeper than football. I would do anything for him, and I know he would do the same for me. I wasn’t worried about him running off with anything.”
For Golston, trust is essential because football keeps him away from The Studio MBS during the season. He relied heavily on that trust as the business got off the ground last year.
“It’s cliché, but trying to find good help is hard,” he said. “Never being discouraged, always knowing that I trust he people I was in business with. I trust [Lorenzo]. I trust my wife. I trust his wife to ultimately do what was best for the company. That was always in the back of my mind.”