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Cardinals Take Part In PAC Business Combine

Former and current players spend offseason in the classroom studying financial literacy

Cardinals linebacker Owen Pappoe writes down notes during PAC Business Combine course.
Cardinals linebacker Owen Pappoe writes down notes during PAC Business Combine course.

A little over a year ago, offensive lineman Jon Gaines took part in the NFL Scouting Combine and put up solid numbers in the drills.

One year later, Gaines participated in a different type of combine, yet the numbers discussed were equally as impactful.

Gaines and a handful of other current and former Cardinals recently attended the Pro Athlete Community Business Combine in Florida, a week-long event with the goal of helping educate NFL players on investing in off-the-field opportunities. Gaines, linebacker Owen Pappoe, wide receiver Zach Pascal, and running back Emari Demercado were among those representing the Cardinals at the event.

It was emphasized to the players that it's never too early to explore business ventures outside of football.

"(The veterans and former players) were like, 'You guys are really smart for doing this now because we wish we had this guidance when we were coming out,'" Gaines said. "It's really cool because you kind of see a guideline of what to do and what not to do and they're very transparent with it."

There was an agenda each day centered around a different topic in the business industry. Whether it was breaking down real estate leasing, franchising, or entrepreneurship, the players had a chance to sit down and ask questions with experts in those fields.

Pappoe said that he hopes to build on the tips he learned at the PAC Business Combine and "get some skin in the game and potentially purchase a property."

"I'm a guy who kind of had an idea of what I wanted to do outside of football, but there's still some of that anxiety about what do I really want to do," Pappoe said. "Having them break down the process, step by step, of what it's like to be in this field and generate generational wealth being in those fields. On top of that, I got to meet guys around the league, so it was a really cool experience."

Having like minded teammates, especially in the rookie class, is something Pappoe isn't taking for granted.

"We were kind of talking about potentially, in the future, we can get together and work on a project," Pappoe said.

Current and former Cardinals players pose for a photo at the PAC Business Combine. Front row L-R: WR Zach Pascal and Corey Clement  
Back row L-R: QB Chris Strevler, Player Engagement Assistant Jared Reed, OL Jon Gaines, QB Jeff Driskel, TE Ian Bunting, LB Owen Pappoe, CB Bobby Price, DL Carlos Watkins, DL Jonathan Ledbetter, RB Emari Demercado, and Director of Player Engagement Josh Marriner

Gaines doubled down on that sentiment, adding that he and his fellow Cardinals were able "to pick up golden nuggets" as they learned "how to build a foundation and lay out a path for what you want to do."

After missing his rookie season due to a knee injury, Gaines is also focused on his recovery process. Each morning at 6 a.m., Gaines was at the gym rehabbing his knee, adding that the other players at the facility were "hyping me up" along the way.

But if there's a term that's serving as a driving force for Gaines following the PAC Business Combine, it's being intentional.

"Attacking rehab with intent to go out on the field and play with the intent to win, because that's what matters," Gaines said. "And then winning on and off the field comes with intentionality. Following up through networking, like, you have to be about your business and stand on it and really just do what you say you're going to do."