During the NFL offseason, we tend to hear a lot about what players are doing wrong, or at least the controversies that come up in their lives. A few years back, it was the horrible news that former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez was being arrested on suspicion of murder. This year, we’ve heard stories ranging from ex-NFL star Darren Sharper’s arrest on suspicion of rape to Colin Kaepernick’s strange involvement with the Miami police. To be clear, Kaepernick has not been charged with a crime, and for that reason shouldn’t be lopped in with men like Hernandez and Sharper—but it still wasn’t a good series of headlines for the NFL.
Indeed, the NFL seems to have a problem with player conduct, and far too many arrests or suspicious incidents occur in the offseason. But this still isn’t a fair picture to pain of the league, when you consider that the majority of players are fairly normal (if, you know, famous and rich) during the offseason! So to counter the negative headlines of the past few off seasons, here are a few more cheerful activities some prominent players have enjoyed during their spring and summer months.
Russell Wilson – Professional Baseball
Nothing new here for Seahawks fans, but given the sports world’s constant lookout for the next Bo Jackson, Wilson’s offseason hobby of professional baseball has to be considered one of the most interesting extracurricular activities for NFL players. A former college baseball star, Wilson is technically a member of the Texas Rangers’ organization and has indicated on multiple occasions that he’s open to pursuing pro baseball in the future (though his primary focus remains on football, and… you know… winning Super Bowls). Wilson did spend time this offseason at the Rangers’ training camps.
Jimmy Graham – Flying
No, Jimmy Graham can’t fly, though he’s such an incredible athlete we can think of a few things that would be more shocking. He has, however, worked hard enough at learning to fly a plane that he obtained a pilot’s license and spends a great deal of time in the offseason flying around for fun. Men’s Journal even quoted Graham as saying “in my life, the sky is literally the ceiling” in a 2013 article detailing Graham’s ambition to one day partake in the Red Bull Air Race Championship.
Miles Austin – Poker
Most would say Miles Austin had a busy offseason in 2014, given the fact that he remained an unsigned free agent until being picked up by the Browns. However, Austin appears to have actually had a relaxing offseason, evidently having taken time off to pursue his other competitive hobby of playing poker. Most notably, Austin appeared in a WPT World Championship event in New Jersey earlier this year. Generally populated by pro players (but not a closed environment to celebrity guests or fortunate amateurs), these events require some serious poker chops, so we’d guess Austin is quite the experienced player. Or, perhaps, he could indeed be one of those fortunate amateurs. As is often seen on the betfair poker platform, the company often teams up with real-life tournaments to allow amateurs to earn a chance at a table filled with longtime pros, like those he took on in Jersey.
Arian Foster & Maurice Jones-Drew
You may know them best as the running backs who sabotaged your 2013 fantasy team, but both MJD and Foster remain capable backs in the league. Also, they have had some of the best individual rushing seasons in the past decade or so. Apparently, the two also enjoy their video games during the offseason, with both apparently being avid Call Of Duty fans. Realistically, there are likely hundreds of professional athletes who spend a great deal of time with video games—it’s relaxing, social, and altogether fun. But few play with enough enthusiasm to make news headlines!
These are just a few publicly known examples of offseason bobbies and activities. But with so much legal trouble reaching the news in the past few years, let’s remember that there are plenty of NFL stars who simply enjoy their fun when they’re away from the game as well.