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Carolina Panthers

From the gridiron to the cubicle, Andre Smith is making the most of his offseason


Panthers linebackerAndre Smith knows football doesn't last forever.

That's why his offseason might look a little bit different than most. While other players are lounging on beaches or spending time relaxing with their families after a long season, Smith is spending his time in a cubicle working a 9-to-5.

Through the NFL Players Association, Smith landed an externship with StubHub in San Francisco. For the next three weeks, he'll trade in his helmet and shoulder pads for a suit and tie as he learns the inner workings of the ticketing company's technology, business management and marketing divisions.

"What I'm going to be doing is basically going around from group to group, learning what they do within their groups. Just being a fly on the wall learning and listening," Smith said. "We're able to network and learn the different kind of operations that go with the business."

Since 2014, the NFLPA's externship program has produced 183 externs with 41 different partner organizations. Opportunities can range from jobs on Capitol Hill to collegiate athletic departments and even NASA. Working alongside Smith in San Francisco are Seahawks running back Robert Turbin, Bengals wide receiver Trenton Irwin and free agent defensive tackle Aziz Shittu. Last year, Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz took advantage of the program as he worked with FOX Sports in Los Angeles.

The externship isn't the only thing keeping Smith busy this offseason, though. In 2018, Smith declared for the NFL Draft as a junior, and as a result, he left UNC-Chapel Hill without a degree. Since then, he's been slowly chipping away at his remaining coursework so he can finally fulfill his goal of graduating. This offseason is no different, as Smith is juggling biology and sociology courses alongside his externship and workouts.

"I'm not going to be all the statistics that people talk about with former players, that they're losing money, don't have anything after the league," Smith said. "That's not going to be 'Dre."

The average NFL career only lasts about three years, and Smith already has two seasons in the books. Smith said that watching fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly retire last month at just 28 years old only further reinforced the fact that nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.

So, that's why Smith decided to attack the offseason in the same way he would the regular season.

"I wanted to have a productive offseason," Smith said. "Last offseason I just wasted a lot of time that I could have been doing stuff like this. I was working out and stuff like that, but I could have been growing in other areas of life, so I wanted to take advantage of that."

Between online classes, business meetings and workouts, it's safe to say Smith is making the most of his time off this year.

"One of my goals from my rookie year to this year was just to be way more mature, to be about business," Smith said. "The mentality that I set up back in 2019 kind of just carried over to 2020. The grind of the season went from the season to whatever I was doing in the offseason. It's still a grind, but it's different."

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