This quarterback from Alabama wants to be your insurance salesman

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Three years ago, Jake Coker's work attracted more than 26 million viewers. As a starting quarterback from the University of Alabama, he pitched two touchdowns to help the Crimson Tide to beat Clemson University in the national college football championship.

Monday, when Alabama and Clemson meet for the titleMr. Coker will perform in front of a small crowd, some regional business owners in Alabama. He will try to make them passionate about property and casualty insurance.

"If your building is destroyed in one way or another," said Mr. Coker, "you must be covered".

Alabama and Clemson, gathered in the College Football Playoff for the fourth year in a row, have dominated college football for so long that a major player from their first title has become an insurance salesman. After trying to silence the National Football League, Mr. Coker joined what has become a real league: former college football players who sell insurance.

Members include Craig Krenzel, the quarterback who led Ohio State to a national championship in 2002, and a range of former leading players in the Southeast.

Among Coker's local competitors in Mobile, Alaska, is one of his university rivals, former Auburn football captain Reese Dismukes. Among his other regional foes, there are former quarterback Auburn Ben Leard and former Georgia stars David Greene and Matt Stinchcomb.

Most of them played the quarterback. Almost all sell the same type of insurance: commercial real estate and damage, which covers damage such as fires and corresponding liabilities.

"We compete against each other, as we did at the time we were playing," said Mr. Leard, senior vice president of J. Smith Lanier & Co., a Marsh & Company. McLennan Agency LLC.

Mr. Coker at the 2016 National University Playoff Championship Championship Game.

Mr. Coker at the 2016 National University Playoff Championship Championship Game.


John Green / Zuma Press

The insurance industry has become such a well-known plan B for aspiring NFL quarterbacks that some are relieved to have avoided it. Tom Brady, the star of the New England Patriots, once summed up his feeling about his nomination in 2000 by stating in an interview for a documentary: "I was so excited that I was like:" I do not need to be an insurance salesman! & # 39; "

But most university players ultimately need a regular job. Many of them find it in places where they remain local celebrities, sometimes working for alumni or supporters of the schools for which they played. And they find it in a branch of work where the recognition of their name gives them a distinct advantage: they are the rare sellers of insurance that real strangers are really eager to meet.

"When you call someone and you say your name, the light goes off and they know who they are talking to," said Mr. Coker. "It gives them some kind of confidence."

The league of quarterbacks become insurance sellers spreads all over the country. Tony Graziani, who helped Oregon win the Cotton Bowl title in 1996 and spent four seasons in the NFL, sells property and risk as well as health and life insurance in Bend, Oregon. "I love it," he says.

But it is particularly concentrated in areas where university football attracts religious devotion.

Some of the ex-quarters say it's no coincidence that they found themselves on the same side of the business. They emphasize the competitiveness of sales, coupled with the resolute nature of the problems of commercial insurance. "This requires a process of thinking both analytical and creative, which brings me back to the quarterback position," says Mr. Krenzel, director of the Arthur Krenzel Insurance Insurance Group in Dublin, Ohio, not far from the campus from Ohio State University.

But others, in the business world, indicate another factor. The people they seek to buy a property insurance are among the most likely supporters of college football teams in the region. And the quarterbacks are among the most prominent players of these teams.

"There are a lot of business owners who are big football fans of Alabama," says Chris Boone, an agency executive who hired Mr. Coker, of BXS Insurance Inc. "They would naturally be inclined to receive Jake for an appointment."

Mr. Coker signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a non-traded free agent in 2016, but was fired during the pre-season. Back in Alabama, a former university administrator, who runs a handling and shipping company, offered him his first job, Coker said. Ten months after the national championship game, Mr. Coker spent his days loading wood on trucks.

"You go first class, you ask for something, you have it, then you escape and you're alone," he says.

It was thanks to a friend who works at BXS that Mr. Coker landed his job there last summer. Other former players relied on links with more direct academic links. Mr. Leard, the former Auburn quarterback who works near the campus, was hired by the former CFO of his agency, a financial player in the school's athletics program.

As former players have learned, their local fame does not provide them with new business. In some cases, there may be a disadvantage.

Mr. Greene, who set a National Collegiate Athletic Association record with 42 Georgia Bulldogs quarterback wins from 2001 to 2004, sells commercial property and casualty insurance to Sterling Seacrest Partners in Atlanta. He says that the interest of potential customers is not always what it seems.

"Some people will say," Hey, my grandson loves the Dawgs, so I really want to meet him. Can you sign a ball for my grandson? Said Greene. "But they really have no intention of doing business with you."

The night of the national championship game is particularly important for Mr. Coker, who is one of only two players in the last two decades to win a national title for two different schools. He was a replacement for the 2013 Florida State University championship team prior to his transfer.

It's also a great week for him this year. While Alabama and Clemson play Monday night in Santa Clara, California, Mr. Coker announced that he would spend a week in Birmingham, Alabama, to meet with existing and potential customers.

"I have to find a good place to watch the game," he says. "I hope to find a small bar with Bama fans."

Write to Brian Costa to brian.costa@Fantastic Insurance