CHARLOTTE – Jason Kyle has married work and lifestyle over cups of coffee in his life after football, and the former Panthers long snapper has found success in the business.
After spending 16 years with five teams in the NFL, including an eight-season stint in Carolina, Kyle has returned to his native Arizona, settling in Scottsdale and owning Press Coffee, partnering with the Arizona-based coffee business he first invested in eight years ago.
"I spent a lot of time drinking coffee anyway, so it was a fit there," Kyle said. "I enjoy the guys that I partnered with, so I had that aspect that was similar to football – you enjoy what you're doing with people you enjoy doing it with."
Kyle played with the Panthers from 2001-08, playing a role in Carolina's run to the Super Bowl in the 2003 season. He won the Super Bowl in 2010 with the Saints, his last stop in a career that included playing at Seattle, Cleveland, and San Francisco. He retired after the 2010 season.
Kyle first invested in Press Coffee in 2015 when the shop had one location in Phoenix. He has watched the brand grow to 12 cafes across the state, including locations in Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, and Gilbert, win international silver and bronze Golden Bean awards for six of their roasts, and incorporate wholesale and e-commerce into the business.
He said he spends much of his focus on marketing and development, spotting locations and designing stores, keeping up with financial details, and maintaining profitability. He studied marketing at Arizona State, where he also played college football, translating plenty of skills he learned from the game into his post-football path.
"The comfort in business after football is you're not afraid of long days and working hard," Kyle said. "You understand that you definitely have ups and downs; you're never as good as you think you are, and you're never as bad as you think you are. I think that having lived a lot of NFL seasons, on the winning side and losing side of both; you learn to take those ups and downs in stride."
Kyle crossed paths with JJ Jansen, who took over long-snapper duties at Carolina after him, just before his career with the Panthers ended. Jansen was one year into his career after signing with Green Bay when he talked with Kyle at a gym in Phoenix – meeting up with his future predecessor before eventually breaking the Panthers' record for most games played in franchise history. Both Jansen and Kyle grew up in Arizona.
"I definitely remember the sequence of events," Kyle said. "There are always places in the offseason that people find to work out in their hometowns, and we had a common gym that we were going to. Long snappers and kickers always kind of find each other in those scenarios.
"We just started talking, and he was aspiring to start his career, and I was probably aspiring to hang onto my career. Eventually, he put the work in, got the job, and I moved on. He did well there. It's kind of a small world to run into each other in the same place in Phoenix."
Kyle said he enjoys coming back to Charlotte and counts it as one of his favorite cities he has called home. Press Coffee has expanded into a pilot shop in Sprouts Farmers Market, a supermarket chain which has a location in Charlotte, so the brand could show up in the Carolinas in the future.
Kyle has enjoyed diving into the coffee space in his home state, and he continues diving into all his post-football venture has to offer.
"It's a bit of a community," Kyle said. "You've got a lot of people in Arizona and everywhere that the coffee shop's kind of the hangout spot. That coffee culture, at least in Phoenix, is pretty strong. So it's a fun (and) interesting business to be in."