How Josh Booty Took His Two-Sport Mentality to a Career After Sports
When a professional athlete’s playing days are over, many do not realize that athlete’s career in another field is often just beginning. As part of VIKTRE’s dedication to not only drive interaction between athletes and their fans, but also provide other athletes with inspiration on their own career transition, our Career team made it a priority to show how successful many athletes have been since their playing days ended in a feature called “My Career Change.”
In this installment of “My Career Change,” we interviewed former professional baseball and professional football player, Josh Booty.
Transitioning from professional athlete to a career after sports is difficult enough when you excel at one sport, but Booty’s transition was on a level few other athletes have experienced in their careers. From first round Major League Baseball draft pick in 1994 to sixth round NFL draft pick in 2001, the highly touted athlete from the state of Louisiana experienced life at both ends of the opportunity barrel, as he will tell you in our interview.
Just like in sports, excelling in one field was not for Booty either. Since last suiting up for the Oakland Raiders in 2007 and the Arizona Diamondbacks after winning the reality show “The Next Knuckler,” Booty has forged a career after sports path that has lived up to and exceeded the “Dos Equis Guy of Sports” nickname one writer gave him back in 2013.
What sport did you play?
Baseball and Football
What teams did you play for?
Florida Marlins Organization (World Series Champion 1997) 1994-1998
Louisiana State University 1999-2000
Seattle Seahawks 2001
Cleveland Browns 2001-2003
Oakland Raiders 2007
Arizona Diamondbacks Organization
What industry did you change careers to?
“I ended up being in a venture capital space and entrepreneurial line of businesses. My family has a credit card processing company. We’ve been around for about 20-plus years. Our sister company is CBMS, and we started a direct to retail marketing company. My family is really involved in that. My brother runs the office, and I run outside sales. We built a sales force of 90-100 sales reps all over the country to help show businesses we can save them money. Credit card processing is a wonderful industry to be in, we do it right out here in Newport (California) and the home office is in Arkansas right next to Wal-Mart. We do all of the pin debits for Wal-Mart, and we also work with the NFL and some of their teams’ merchant processing. We have a really good foundation for what we are doing.
I am also in the medical lab business, have a whiskey company and also have a gaming company. We are doing some fun things in Vegas and other cities and casinos with the gaming company. My whiskey company is called Country Smooth. I also have a radio show called “The Franchise,” which is done from Angels Stadium, we were actually just picked up on a Nationally syndicated deal to be in 90-100 markets. I also do some consulting for some other companies as well, including raising money for startups. I kind of do a little bit everything.”
Tell people a little bit more about the radio show
“We just signed a deal with SB Nation to be in over 100 markets within a couple of weeks. We are rolling that out as we speak. We have been in Southern California doing all of the postgame for the Angels and the Ducks, and our studio is there at Angels stadium. We followed the games for an hour every night, five nights a week.”
When you were in college, were you thinking about life after sports?
“No, not really. I liked TV and radio and I initially got into that right after I was done playing. I felt like I didn’t have any more opportunities, and I was in L.A. where my brother was the quarterback at USC, and I had some real in-roads there. So, I began to work with ESPN, Fox and XM radio to do some TV and radio and was building that up for a year, but then I got a DUI. It is a long story, but I got beat up in jail by jailers and actually won a lawsuit against the department (Orange County Sheriff’s Department). They said I was drunk, belligerent and resisting arrest but I had everything on video. By the time I was released the next day, they had released an AP wire statement saying all of that, and that hit the papers. I had just got cut by the Raiders, and it was the first time I ever got a DUI and the only time it had happened since. The next thing I know, I’m on the front page of papers with my picture with their statement and saying I got in fights with the cops in the jail which was untrue. Because of this, Fox and ESPN called me said they were going to drop me until it was all figured out.
I was on my way to becoming a television and radio personality in L.A., but then that happened. I had to overcome that DUI after getting dropped, so I had to re-think what I was going to do and re-position myself. The one thing I have always been good at is developing relationships all over the place, so I was going to use that to my advantage and develop business relationships. I started putting things together. Put together the medical company with some friends of mine, then I sold my portion of that and built myself up.”
How did you end up in reality TV ?
“A few years ago I was on a sports reality show called “The Next Knuckler” right after R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young award. They brought in a bunch of former athletes and were going to teach them how to throw a knuckleball, and I ended up winning the show and going to Spring Training with the Diamondbacks. I was in the middle of Spring Training against the Giants, and here I was 15 years removed from being in big league Spring Training. Kirk Gibson was my manager, and it was the craziest thing ever. They wanted to send me to the minors, but I didn’t want to go back to riding the buses so I came back here and decided to start working on some more things.
Then just recently, I was asked to be on a television show on the E Network called “The Country Club.” It is the next southern charm show that they are doing, they are going to do it out of New Orleans. It actually starts filming at the end of March and I am going to be a cast member on that.”
How did you end up in all of those widely different industries?
“I know a little about a lot of industries. I had to be really resourceful. I wanted to be the first quarterback to ever play professional baseball at the same time. It didn’t work out, nobody has ever been able to do it but at least I was able to be on professional rosters in both sports at different times. Finding out what to do after sports is very difficult for people. It is hard to earn a dollar. In sports, it seems like it comes so easily because you have done it your whole life and it is who you are. When you get out of sports it is difficult to make a dollar and find your way and find an industry you really like and have a passion for. For me, it is all different types of industries and being part of raising money for different companies and being part of different brands and doing radio here and there. So I have done a whole lot to stay relevant in my own mind.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced making your career change?
“Feeling like you can still compete and not having any contract in place to play. It was humbling, because I feel like I can still throw and run with the guys in the NFL. I really take pride in being in shape, so that has been really difficult. It motivates me to stay in shape and run, I actually think I am in better shape now than I was at the combine in Indianapolis. That’s really difficult for people to deal with, still feeling like you are physically able to do it and not being on a team making money doing what you have always wanted to do since you were a kid. Whether it is baseball or football, I enjoyed football more … I have a football family. It is hard, I still feel like I can play both and it is weird not going to the park every day even though I haven’t really done it the last 10 years.
A lot of players never get to play out their good years because they just did not get the opportunity or had to walk away for one reason or another. There’s a lot of guys that you could put a Hall of Fame team together with who didn’t make it for one reason or another and you could probably put them up against the Superstars you see on TV. So much can happen to these players, they get weeded out. They may have been unlucky or unhealthy or had something else get in the way.
I was a first-rounder in baseball, I got tons of opportunities. I was in the big leagues at 19/20-years old, playing and starting and then I decided I wanted to go back and play football and really help LSU and try to help them be good again and be their savior. We were terrible the first year, then Saban came in and I was drafted late. You don’t get the opportunities you get when you are drafted late as you do when you are drafted early. I have seen them both. I actually worked for my agent a year after I got out of football, I signed five quarterbacks for him that are/were NFL guys. I did the agent thing and I didn’t like it. I didn’t enjoy signing guys who were taking my jobs because I felt like I could still play.”
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your new career?
“Helping my brother become who he became at USC and really taking him under my wing. He was the QB and Rose Bowl MVP, he was drafted in the NFL. I really took him under my wing, he lived with me in L.A., we trained together and he won a lot of games at USC. That was one of my favorite things I have ever done, being a big brother and a mentor to him in his life process of playing college football. That was fun and rewarding to see him playing on Saturdays and to be in the Heisman Trophy race. I enjoyed that more than any business win to be honest with you.”
What advice do you have for athletes making their career change?
“You want to pick where you want to live and work where you enjoy being. To me, that’s a big part of life. When high school kids are deciding where they want to go to college, they should ask where they see themselves being when it is all said and done. Whatever the answer is, go to school there and network your butt off and never alienate anybody. You never know what industry anyone in your class is going to be in. Relationships are so key after football (or any sport), so you need to set yourself up for the future. A good example is with my brother JD (John David Booty) who is in commercial real estate now in Southern California. It seems like every person went to USC and all the money is there, so it is easy for him to transition to life after football because of his ties to USC and Orange County from school. Wherever you go to school, you should try and set up shop there to take advantage of your networks.”