- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every week, What’s the Fuss with … will feature a unique off-the-field side of an Arizona Cardinal in a Q&A format. If you have an idea for a What’s the Fuss with … tweet Josh Weinfuss at @joshweinfuss using the hashtag #WTFuss.
This week What’s the Fuss sat down with kicker Jay Feely, whose career didn't begin the traditional way. Curious? Let’s get started.
How’d you get into financial planning?
“Well, I got done in Michigan, tried out for Tampa Bay and a couple other teams. Didn’t get picked up and signed so I said, ‘What am I going to do?' I was looking at a lot of other jobs. Interviewed with Northwestern Mutual. Interviewed with Raymond James in Tampa."
Feely’s cousin, former American League Rookie of the Year John Castino, was also a financial planner. He worked with some family members and mentored Feely.
“He was like, ‘Jay, I think you’d be really good at it. It’s really a relationship business.’ My point was I don’t know anything about it. I didn’t study it in school.
“When I got the job with with Wealth Enhancement Group, which is a regional firm based out of Minneapolis, they wanted to open up an office down in Florida so it fit perfect. So for the next eight months I just studied. My wife got a job, so she was making the money for us. She was working for pharmaceuticals, and I studied for eight months and took all my exams and tests and took my Series Six and Series Seven and got all my licenses and started doing it and did it for two years. And I continued to kick and work out and I’d work all day and then I’d go lift and run and go and kick balls in the evening. My wife would come and shag balls. It got to the point, when we had our first kid, which was two years out of school, I was working full time, and one or the other had to stop. I was at that point where literally I was like I’m going to quit kicking because it hasn’t happened in two years. I had gone to camps and try outs and went to minicamp with the (Kansas City) Chiefs and kicked great and they said, ‘We’re going to bring you into camp for sure and we’re going to sign you' and it didn’t happen.
“I just kinda felt I’ve done everything I could do. I must not be good enough. I said, ‘Alright I’ll give it one more camp and went out to Reno (Nevada), did this camp they have out there, ended up getting signed by Atlanta. And went in there as the camp guy with (Arizona coach Bruce Arians’ son) Jake Arians. Jake got injured and gave me a chance to kick in three preseason games. He was on the practice squad the year before. He was a real good kicker. They were looking at him to replace Morton (Anderson)."
So you took the coach’s son’s job?
“It’s kinda funny because when it came down to it because we both kicked really well in camp and I wouldn’t have gotten the job if he hadn’t gotten injured and hurt his groin. And we both knew whoever didn’t get that job was going to end up going out to Buffalo. And as soon as he got cut, he got signed in Buffalo. And then hurt his groin worse when he was up there.”
What was it like not playing for two years after college?
“It was disappointing and frustrating because I thought I was good enough, but you don’t know if you’re good enough until you get an opportunity and you actually do it. I wanted more than anything the opportunity to fail. If I get the chance and I’m not good enough, I can live with that. I think there are a lot of guys in that situation, it’s hard when you don’t get the chance. You keep holding on and you keep trying out. You feel like you’re good enough and you kick well and then it doesn’t happen and then you watch games and you see guys miss a kick and you’re like, ‘I can do that.’ I’m sure guys do that to me all the time. So it was difficult and you’re trying to raise a family and work full time and trying to stay ready."
How long were you a financial planner and a kicker?
“I did it for about two years. I never tried to get any clients with guys that I was on the team with. I wanted a distinct line. I didn’t want them to feel like my friendship had ulterior motives. I did it really for myself and I did [it for] my clients that I had. And I started partnering with my cousin. He did the day-to-day stuff and I would still manage the relationships. Then the (Securities and Exchange Commission) changed the rules a couple years after I made the team in Atlanta and you couldn’t harbor your license any more. You had to do a certain amount of business. I was doing continuing education, but I wasn’t doing any new business so I had to let my license lapse. So I just went in to doing stuff for myself. Started a venture capital firm.”
What did you study at Michigan?
Ever think about what life would be like if you never kicked in NFL?
“You think about that for sure. I think I would’ve been happy. I think it’s a hard job being a financial planner because you can do all the right things, make all the right decisions and truly care about your clients and put them first and the market goes down and your clients lose money. That’s a tough position to be in especially because most of your clients are friends and family, and people you care about, especially when you start out. And you never want them to lose money. I was lucky the couple years I did it, the markets went up and did well.”
If teammates ask you for financial-planning help, do you help them?
“Sometimes. Especially as a captain and as a player rep, you know those kinds of positions. I might grab a guy and say, ‘Hey think about this, or you don’t need to do that.’ I may tell a guy, ‘Hey you don’t need an agent right now. You’re in your first three years, your contract’s basically slotted and guaranteed and you’re paying somebody three percent for no reason.”