Antoine Bethea has 12 years in the NFL, making 3 Pro Bowl appearances and winning a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. While he has undoubtedly had an incredible NFL career, his goal is to be even more successful off the field, in the world of tech, through his Safe Coverage Foundation and with a youth academy in Virginia called Shutdown Academy 757.
I caught up with the detail oriented Bethea this offseason to learn more about his off-field pursuits and also a bit of what he thinks of some current issues in the NFL.
When did you first become enamored with tech and what was your first investment in the space?
Bethea: The [Mark] Zuckerberg story was when I first got enamored with tech. When you hear about how he created the platform Facebook, how it started from a meeting to where it is now. I think that opened peoples' eyes in terms of what tech was at that point and where its going.
Of course, being in the NFL that's how you interact with fans, through technology. We also utilize social media platforms in many other ways. Being able to monetize different opportunities on these platforms. There are a lot of things tech can do for us good and bad. But the opportunities that it provides myself and guys in positions like myself, you would be a fool not to be inclined or interested in the tech space. Everything we do in our life now is technology, so why not get involved with it?
My first investment was in an application called Fan Date/Star Date and now it has changed to VYU Labs.
Who do you credit for influencing you to get involved in the tech scene and how did they help shape your strategy?
Bethea: There wasn't one specific person, but there were a few people guiding myself and other players to get into this space. They were saying it was a good opportunity, and even if I don't get into it, to learn about it. When I was in the Silicon valley area, there were a lot of meetings where you could be in the same space as experts. This is how I learned about the space, and it really just inspired me.
I think the biggest thing was putting me in front of the right people and asking me what it was I was interested in. To be honest I wasn't sure what tech space I wanted to be in, but the people they put me in front of were well qualified, smart and genuine so they were able to help guide me.
What's the most important thing you learned throughout your decorated NFL career and why?
Bethea: The most important thing I've learned is paying attention to details. Details help you win, but if you don't pay attention to them, they can definitely help you lose.
What trends do you currently see in the NFL that you like and dislike?
Bethea: The new trend I like is seeing is players exchanging their jerseys after games. At the end of the day, we all respect each other and the work we put in. There is nothing wrong with being fans of your peers.
The trend I dislike is where the game is going as far as physicality wise. It's just not what it used to be. For a good reason, but I still don't like it.