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The Ultimate Switch Up

A conversation with retired NFL player and writer Jonathan Wynn

Photo By: Emmaline Photo

Background of Jonathan Wynn

Native of Atlanta, GA Jonathan graduated from Stephenson High School where he began his advanced football journey. After graduating in 2013 he attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN beginning his collegiate football career. Graduating in 2017 with a degree in Educational Studies, he was on his way to the NFL. After spending time in the NFL Jonathan decided that after a few seasons playing it was time to venture into his passions as a writer. Being a writer brought Jonathan to the idea of creating Summer Juice, a nostalgic book telling the coming-to-age story of millennials. Jonathan and I crossed paths for the first time in middle school.

Tackle and Repeat

In our lives we cultivate interests, some stay and some leave. When is it time to make the switch out of the life we dreamed so long about? Off the field, you begin to think about life past being a player. During your younger years it's all about Monday, Thursday, or Sunday bright lights and nothing else. In the beginning of your career you eat, sleep, and drink football. What else is there other than media day, practice, weight lifting, studying film, and staying in tip top physical shape? Mental health has become a big topic in football specifically because of the major internal bruising we don't physically see. But, when the lights are off and the field is quiet at the end of your last season, what do you want to do with your time? What did you do to set yourself up for the future you never saw coming so fast? Is it hard to get past the football life and accept I am transitioning into something else? Am I mentally ready to open this new door? What advice would I give younger players to make their transition into non-football life?

Jonathan's Point of View

I always saw myself of more of an athlete. Playing so well lead me to Vanderbilt where athletes are not praised for their abilities on the field but also expected to perform in the classroom as well. All athletes are expected to be well rounded people. It was not as complicated because of that repour the school held with us and only helped push me into my interests past playing.
For me, it was not hard because I had a plan and football served its purpose in my life. I had my time with playing and now I had the opportunity to let what I learned in football mold me for the next chapter. I knew transitioning would test me with how I saw myself and proving that my identity was not wrapped in sports. Of course, I miss the adrenaline and the juice of it all but I know I have more to do past what I accomplished playing.
When I sat down trying to decide if I wanted to retire, it was a teeter for a minute. I prayed and did my self-reflection to help with my decision and once I did those things it was clear as to what I wanted to do. I know some people are not too open with sharing their retirement but I wanted to make it known and show that I did the work but this is where my playing story ends.
I would tell younger athletes to find something you are passionate about during your time playing other than ball. I don't think many athletes get questioned about what is their plan after ball. I do think this question should be asked as early as high school and early college so your identity is not all on football that you have nothing after you are done. It was tunnel vision for me when I was in college and I did not think about after football until I was playing in the league. During the free time I had during the off season I was thinking about how I could keep myself busy and I did internships also. Football does not last forever and many athletes think that they will play forever and don't have anything else.

Photography Above:

Minnesota Vikings

Vanderbilt University

Detroit Lions

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