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Bills' Patrick DiMarco preparing for future at annual NFL Business Academy

Bill fullback Patrick DiMarco is getting in his work during the offseason in the classroom, too, with an eye toward the future.

DiMarco was among 25 former and current NFL players at Michigan's Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor for the annual NFL Business Academy — a four-day intensive program designed to educate and inform attendees on best practices for business management, entrepreneurship and franchising.

DiMarco says he decided to sign up because he’s starting to think more seriously about his financial future.

“Given the realization that I’m going on my eighth year in the NFL and most people don’t play past 10 years, I want to be able to secure my future and have a plan," he said. "This is my first time doing this to further my education. It’s an incredible tool because you are investing in yourself and gaining information that will help you for decades.”

DiMarco, who turns 29 next month, arrived last Sunday, along with the other attendees and immersed himself into each session.

“The first day there was a lot of information,” he said. “We did classwork from 8 in the morning to 7 at night. We were doing case studies and learning how to negotiate, and reading over a balance sheet, practical stuff like that. I wasn’t there for a vacation. I was there to learn something.”

While at the Ross School of Business – named for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross – DiMarco says he learned a little bit about business, marketing and consulting in a few different industries, including real estate and franchising. The attendees also had the opportunity to go on real franchise site visits at Jersey Mike’s and Orange Theory.

“I recently entered the franchise world and I’m part of an investor group that’s buying a few franchises and territories to develop more franchises, so I am trying to learn as much as I can," he said. "Seeing numbers, how they generate revenue and all the financials is really cool, but you also want to see if that’s the kind of lifestyle you want to have, if they are happy doing it.”

DiMarco said he and his partners have not decided what type of franchises to purchase.

Giving players a hands-on experience and valuable resources off the field is the primary goal of NFL Player Engagement. This year’s Business Academy was designed to provide the opportunity for players to learn from business leaders, Michigan Ross faculty and NFL veterans who have transitioned to careers in the corporate world.

“The Business Academy provides players with an opportunity to explore their appetite for business or apply new techniques in expanding their existing business operations,” said Arthur McAfee, senior vice president of NFL Player Engagement.

McAfee, who oversees a variety of other programs designed to help current players think about next steps, such as broadcasting and finance, hopes the program leaves a “lasting experience for players interested in entrepreneurship, real estate, franchising and business investment.”

“NFL Player Engagement offers so many programs,” DiMarco said. “I was interested in doing the broadcasting boot camp this year but I won’t be able to attend because my wife is expecting. But, I’m hoping to take advantage of some of the other programs down the road. I know I’m not going to be able to play forever. And I want to be able to put my money to work instead of having to work for my money.”

DiMarco was the only player from the Bills roster at the Business Academy. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor originally signed up for the event, but was unable to attend.

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