Former UGA football players talk football, business ahead of Monday's big game

Jan. 7—On and off the gridiron, many University of Georgia football players make names for themselves, thanks in no small part to their playing days.

As the Bulldogs prepare to battle the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night in Inglewood, California, four former Georgia players working for a Cobb-based insurance firm shared their thoughts with the MDJ on football, business and success in both.

David Greene, Georgia's quarterback from 2001-2005, once held the Southeastern Conference record for passing yards (11,528) and was the winningest quarterback in NCAA history (42) when he finished his college career.

After his brief stint in the NFL ended in 2008, Greene said he knew he wanted to put his undergraduate degree in risk management to good use.

Greene and Matt Stinchcomb, a two-time first-team All-American offensive lineman for the Bulldogs (1995-1998) who played seven seasons in the NFL, talked following their football careers, deciding they would get into the insurance industry.

Both joined Savannah-based Seacrest Partners, which had been looking to gain a bigger foothold in the Atlanta market. In 2009, Greene and Stinchcomb helped open up the company's Atlanta office.

Seacrest merged with Sterling Risk Advisors in 2017, and Greene was well-acquainted with a family member of the firm's principals, Bartley Miller, who was one of his Georgia teammates.

The firm, now Sterling Seacrest Pritchard, is based in the Cumberland area and employs Greene, Stinchcomb and other Georgia football alumni, including Jeb Blazevich and Ryan Sewell.

Greene said there are numerous lessons from football that can be translated into corporate success.

"If you're going to be in a business that we're in, you've got to be competitive, you've got to be self-motivated and you've got to be driven," Greene said. "You've got to enjoy people, I mean, I think that's probably one of the No. 1 things. We're in the service business, so you've got to enjoy meeting people and really trying to understand their business and the potential issues that could harm their business."

Stinchcomb identified character traits and behaviors forged on the field that are crucial to success in business, though he said not all aspects are so easily transferable.

"The game itself insists on selflessness and being team-oriented and collaborating, and being invested and caring about the prosperity and success of others," Stinchcomb said. "But from a practical standpoint, the ability to short-set a defensive end doesn't come in handy, really, in the insurance world."

Sewell, who was a walk-on defensive back for the Bulldogs from 2003-2005 and now works for Sterling Seacrest Pritchard in Savannah, said he took the underdog status from his playing days into the business world.

"I've told some of the guys in my past, if there's any one thing I think that has translated for me personally into business from that experience, it's really just kind of operating every day with a bit of a chip on your shoulder," Sewell said. "You're trying to prove something to yourself, you're trying to prove something to the people around you."

Sewell said the importance of preparation, whether it's for a big showdown on the field or in a boardroom, cannot be overlooked.

"It's not the work during the game that makes the difference," Sewell said. "It's the preparation hours ahead of that that gives you that slight edge...I think that's where there is a translation."

Blazevich, a Bulldogs tight end from 2014-2017, understands the preparation that leads up to a game like Monday's showdown. He was a member of the team that faced off and fell just short against Alabama in the national championship game to end the 2017 season.

"I think the game of football develops character as quickly as it reveals it," Blazevich said.

Blazevich added that football taught him how to navigate adversity like he would not have otherwise been able to, and he also said the teamwork, hard work and creativity fostered by football are indispensable for achieving beyond the playing field.

"I would say the hardest part was, playing football, they told you what to wear, when to show up, what to do, your entire life was scripted," Blazevich. "The best part about now being free of that is of course the freedom that comes with it, but the challenge of running that for yourself."

Blazevich said "trusting your preparation" will be the key to the Bulldogs' success as they seek to repeat as national champions Monday.

"That's true, of course, also in business, as in life," Blazevich said.

He noted that, despite the stakes, Monday's game demands on the same preparation as any other week.

"What I'm expecting in this national championship is to get a Georgia team that's hungry, that is ready to get after it," Greene said, especially after Georgia escaped against Ohio State in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve, 42-41.

All four also said TCU is a team to watch out for, certainly after all the expectations they far exceeded this season.

"A lot respect for TCU and the way that they've competed this year," Stinchcomb said.

However, they all predict Georgia will win by at least two scores in the battle of, as Blazevich put it, "Dawgs vs. Frogs."