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Where Are They Now? RB Brian Westbrook

Brian Westbrook
Brian Westbrook

While there's no I in team or in Westbrook, for that matter, the Eagles Hall of Fame running back never had to be reminded of that.

Before Philadelphia drafted him in 2002, Brian Westbrook left everything he had on the field at Villanova, leaving as a three-time All-American and the still-standing NCAA record-holder for all-purpose yards. And he continued his ability to be multi-threat player for Philadelphia with a single goal – to win.

After being part of the Eagles' Three-Headed Monster backfield rotation with Correll Buckhalter and Duce Staley, Westbrook's first season as the featured back was in 2004 when he was the only player in the NFL to accumulate over 700 yards in both rushing and receiving, while scoring nine total touchdowns. He helped Philadelphia break a three-game NFC Championship Game losing streak and reach Super Bowl XXXIX.

"The guys continued to mature every single year, continued to get better every single year, and in 2004, everybody was at the top of their game," Westbrook says. "That's what it's all about in order to be good, in order to win the NFC Championship, and get to the Super Bowl. Everyone has to pull their own weight. And in 2004, that's exactly what happened."

What happened during the 2007 season would be Westbrook's finest. Setting career-high marks with 1,333 yards rushing and 771 yards receiving, his 2,104 yards from scrimmage led the league and was an all-time team record.

"My focus was to continue to get better every single game. And I was completely healthy," says Westbrook, who was named All-Pro and made a second trip to the Pro Bowl. "I had an opportunity to just go out there and kind of show the NFL and show my teammates and even my critics what I was able to do as far as catching the ball out of the backfield, as well as running. It was just one of those years that come along every so often. But when they do come along, they're always special. And for me, 2007 was a special year."

With the Eagles for eight of his nine years in the NFL, Westbrook, well, he was just special. He finished his career in Philadelphia following the 2009 season as the team's all-time leader with 9,785 total yards from scrimmage – a record which he still holds.

On August 29, 2012, Westbrook retired as an Eagle, and as one of only six players in NFL history with 30+ rushing touchdowns (41) and 30+ receiving touchdowns (30).

"I'm proud that I still have a lot of people come up to me and remember the things that I was able to do on the football field," Westbrook says. "But more importantly, they say that I was a class act, that I represented myself, my family, my football team, my organization, well."

He's still a class act. But now instead of helping win games on the field, he's helping young people win in life with the Brian Westbrook Foundation.

"Our biggest focus is making sure that our mission is complete, which is to be able to educate, empower, and provide access for our young kids," Westbrook says. "Unfortunately, what we've seen is about 50, 55 percent of our young people are going to college, but the other 45 are not. And so, for those that are headed to college, we offer engineering camps, STEAM, data analytics camps, both agriculture data, as well as, sports data analytics camps.

"And we offer an entrepreneurship program through the Foundation for those that are not (going to college). We offer an opportunity for them to learn a trade and then be able to fall right in line with the opportunity to work. The biggest reason for our young people not pursuing some of these opportunities is they don't understand the pathway to it. They don't understand how they get from where they are currently to being the CEO of an organization or owning your own business. They're confused about that because not many people have talked to them about that pathway.

"Our goal through a lot of our programs is not only to educate, but to empower. And then provide them the opportunity to access leaders, access people that have the opportunity to help them go further in their life, in their careers."

Starting the Foundation in 2018 for children 12 to 18, the athletic camp is based out of Bowie State University in Bowie, MD, and the agricultural camp is based out of the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC. The entrepreneurship program is available online.

"It's rewarding," he says. "You don't get to 44 years old and be successful, be blessed, without so much help. I've had so much support. Of course, my parents, my family, that's where it started. But then I've had people that were willing to invest time or invest energy or invest knowledge into me, to be able to help me grow. And without that help, I wouldn't be here today.

"And so, when I see young people that need our help, that need our guidance, that's my purpose. When I see these young people develop over the course of 10, 12 weeks, and then continue to come back and continue to have hunger for knowledge, and just want to get better, that's what it's all about. That's what our mission is, to be able to do that."

Westbrook doesn't only strive to help young people get their potential careers started in the right direction, he also strives to help current and former professional athletes get their second careers started in the right direction, as well. And does so as the managing director of the Athlete Entrepreneur Program.

"It's about teaching our athletes that they have the skill set to be successful after the game. It's a group of athletes that are saying, 'We want to be in the entrepreneurship world.' The truth is, your brand is a business. So you operate in a business all the time. It just depends on how you manage it, and also how you kind of structure it," Westbrook says.

"We don't want to have conversations with our athletes about the issues of going bankrupt. That's a bad narrative for athletes altogether. We should be having conversations about how are we helping each other build to the capacity that we want to build. How can we put our money together and buy businesses and make good business decisions? How can we do the right thing along the pathway of all these things? That's the goal of the network, to make sure that our athletes have the ability to understand that.

"There are so many athletes that will not play 10 years in NFL, that will not play five years in the NBA, they may play a couple of months. And now what happens? What do they do? Sometimes it takes a network like this. Sometimes it takes people that have a vested interest in your success, people that are concerned, that have walked in your shoes, to make sure that you are ready and willing to go make yourself successful. Sometimes you just need a helping hand."

In addition to being a helping hand, Westbrook is an MBA student at Columbia, an NFL broadcaster, a co-author along with Lesley Van Arsdall of a children's book, The Mouse Who Played Football, and last December, he became an inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame.

"It's not only humbling, it's one of those things that you're like, 'Wow.' Because here's the hard part, as a player I was very successful, especially in college and again in the NFL at some level, but you're not able to enjoy it. It's always, 'What's next the next thing?' That's something I really worked hard for, but that's not the peak of the mountain," Westbrook says.

"It's really not until you retire, that you start to look back and are like, 'Wow. I did some things that are pretty cool. Some things that people respect, people are amazed by.' But also, your peers, they respect it. Respect of those people that came before you. Those are the types of people that are in the Football Hall of Fames. And to be mentioned with those type of people, it's amazing.

"And I'm not one to harp on the small college game, but I think is relevant in a couple of different ways. There's nobody else at Villanova, as far as a player, that is in the College Football Hall of Fame. Andy Talley, who was an amazing coach for over 30 years, he was the first entry into the College Football Hall of Fame from Villanova as a coach. And even though I'm pretty sure that there was a couple of people that should have been, just the thought that I was the first, just the thought that my school gets the recognition that it absolutely deserved … One of the things that I really appreciated the most was that my kids, who were not alive when I was playing football – Bria, Brian Jr., and Brielle – they were able to share this monumental achievement with me and my wife, Abdalla. That was pretty special to me."

What's the best thing about being Brian Westbrook today?

"I'm happy and I'm content. I'm content with where my life is at. Unfortunately, so many of us former athletes are not," Westbrook says. "I'm able to live in a home with my happy wife. I'm able to live in a home with my children and watch them grow. The best part to me is always watching the seeds that you planted grow into beautiful flowers. And I'm watching my kids right before my eyes, which is crazy to see, I'm watching so many of the conversations that we've had blossom into different conversations because now they have life to mix in with the principles that we've already instilled in them.

"I have the opportunity to invest with my wife. I have the opportunity to go home (to Maryland) and still work the farm with my dad. I have the opportunity to hang out with my mother and my brother and my cousins. Family has always been super important to me.

"And so, what makes me happy daily is to continue to grow as a businessman, but to grow as a parent, to grow as a husband, and to continue to be the father that I've that I've always wanted to be."

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