Cleveland Browns kicker Billy Cundiff had a more grueling summer than most NFL players.
Every morning he woke up at 6 a.m. to get in a workout and some kicking drills on a local football field near his residence in Phoenix, Az. Afterwards, he would drive his young kids to school or summer camps.
Then started his real work day: a 9-5 internship with CBRE, the world's largest commercial real estate company.
Cundiff, 34, got his hands dirty in all aspects of the company – learning about assets, project management, sitting in with the research department and the actual sales of properties. Cundiff marveled how the heavy hitters within CBRE made $20 million deals for office buildings, almost as if it were grocery money.
For those of us who have been interns before, things were chaotic, in an intriguing way. Cundiff often ate lunch in the car, racing to different properties across the Phoenix area. And like all of the best interns, Cundiff began building connections with anyone and everyone at CBRE.
Good luck finding any athlete who envisions their future quite like Billy Cundiff.
"I just don't want my best days to be behind me," said Cundiff. "I feel that as a competitive person and as an athlete, you're always trying to get better. And I just don't want that attitude to stop once I leave the field."
Now that you understand Cundiff's ambitious personality and sharp intellect, it won't be surprising to learn this was the kicker's fourth internship.
He's shadowed Arizona State's athletic director. He interned at a venture capitalist firm, (more on that later). He even dabbled in a marketing department with Athletes' Performance, a company who specializes in offseason workout plans for professional athletes.
Cundiff's co-workers get a kick out of working alongside an NFL player – no pun intended.
"At first co-workers are puzzled," Cundiff said with a laugh. "Why would I be doing such a thing? They think football players essentially stay at home when they are done playing and always are on a tropical vacation. Then once they realize I'm taking all the character traits of being an athlete – working hard, being committed to a purpose – and transferring those skills to the business world. I think that most of the people see this is going to be a clean transition for me after football."
In the underappreciated business of kicking footballs, Cundiff has thrived and survived. In 2003 as a member of the Cowboys, he set a then-record of knocking seven field goals in one game.
But there was a two-year stretch when Cundiff was out of the league, and turned that venture capitalist internship into a full-time job. It says something about Cleveland's kicker, to fade away from the NFL, but to return with prominence. He set the Browns record for touchbacks last season with 44.
"I've moved to different teams and haven't had as much continuity as I would've liked, but the one thing that hasn't wavered is my confidence in my ability to perform when it counts," said Cundiff.
When you watch Cundiff this season, appreciate his work ethic, appreciate his longevity, but really appreciate the direction he's taking his future.