Iowa Football

Life after football: Former Hawkeyes help current ones

For many players, hard part starts once playing career ends

Former University of Iowa players meet with current ones in the Kinnick Stadium press box Thursday night during the Hawkeyes’ Networking Night. (University of Iowa Athletics)
Former University of Iowa players meet with current ones in the Kinnick Stadium press box Thursday night during the Hawkeyes’ Networking Night. (University of Iowa Athletics)

IOWA CITY — Louis Trinca-Pasat had hit the end of the road in his brief career as a pro football player and was back at the Iowa football complex last summer, unsure where or how he was going to fit into the working world.

The defensive end was a senior starter for Iowa in the 2014 season. He signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and spent the majority of that season on the Rams’ practice squad. He was on injured reserve for the 2016 season after tearing an ACL that spring. He was re-signed for 2017 but was cut before the season started, and that was that.

“Louie came back here during camp last August,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He was kind of in the tank because he just couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do, couldn’t gain any traction.”

This is where the long arms of the Hawkeyes’ program went into action. Trinca-Pasat, who wanted to work in his Chicago hometown where his family lives, reached out to older former Iowa players for advice.

“He ended up pairing up with (former Iowa offensive lineman) Dave Porter,” Ferentz said. “Dave’s done very, very well in real estate in Chicago. So Louis kind of partnered up with him. Dave’s mentoring him. He really seems to like it. He’s off to a great start.

“The best part about it, Dave was 2002, Louis was 2014. They had never met. They met through older players putting them together with each other. It’s a great illustration of how things can work.”

Ferentz wasn’t exaggerating when he said Porter has done well. He is the managing partner of Porter Group Real Estate in Chicago.

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Trinca-Pasat got referred to Porter, and Porter said he helped him toward getting a real estate broker’s license and helped “decrease his learning curve.”

By phone from his office Friday, Porter said “I like to help as many of my Hawkeye brothers as I can. Life after football can be tough. Players don’t always have a direction. They need a little light, a little beacon. Not everybody gets to the pros.”

Though many Hawkeyes make it into NFL camps after their final seasons in the program, some don’t make rosters and others have short pro careers.

Ferentz, knowing his program was built by and is sustained by players, has kept the door open to former players during his 21 years as head coach. Thursday was the program’s fifth-annual Networking Night. Thirty-one former Hawkeye players met with the team’s seniors and juniors.

Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Hartlieb suggested the concept to Ferentz, who says today “We probably should have gotten to it sooner.”

The event isn’t about football talk. It’s advice and encouragement on how to approach life and work after college and football, whenever that may be. Former NFL players Aaron Kampman, Marv Cook and Anthony Herron — all of whom built professional careers after their playing days were over — were on hand. But most of the 31 never played a snap of pro football.

The format resembled speed dating, with current players talking to former ones for a few minutes, and then moving on to the next table.

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“I talked to five different guys who do five different things, from finance to an engineer to a doctor,” Iowa tight end Drew Cook said. “It struck me how willing they are to help you and want to help you.”

Herron said “Is it OK that I don’t know what to do yet?” was a question the current Hawkeyes often asked.

“My answer was yes,” Herron said. “I thought I was going to play in the NFL for 15 years and retire to my yacht. I didn’t get to do that, and that’s fine.”

Herron played four years in the NFL, four more in the Arena Football League after his 2000 senior season at Iowa. He coached in the Arena league, and now is in broadcasting, working for the Pac-12 Network and doing TV and radio work in Chicago.

Many former players will tell you it’s almost impossible to duplicate the feelings they had when they played college ball and how hard it is to adjust and settle into a career path once those days are done.

Just by being examples that there is life after football and putting that in the back of the current players’ minds, the former Hawkeyes are once again contributing to their team.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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