Brandon Copeland | Average to Savage EP1

The first episode of the Average to Savage podcast with Paul Guarino. Guarino talked with New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland discussing football, social media, real estate, and more. Dedicated to Evan Pittman Powered by Training Mask Host – Aaron Burrell: This is the “Average to Savage” Podcast with Paul Guarino. Everyone and anyone: athletes, celebs, and much more. Paul Guarino: Brandon and I would like to dedicate this podcast to Evan Pittman. Alright, guys, I’m here with Brandon Copeland who is a Linebacker for the New York Jets. Brandon, how is it going? Brandon Copeland: Going great, man. Thanks for having me on! PG: For sure. You’re the first guest on the Average to Savage Podcast. BC: That’s a beautiful thing right there, it’s an honor and a pleasure. Hopefully, I won’t run you out of business, you just started. But nah, I’m excited. Thanks, man. PG: Yeah, no problem. Let’s just jump right into it, tell the listeners a little about yourself. BC: I’m Brandon Copeland, I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland. I went to the University of Pennsylvania, which is in Philly, not to be confused with Penn State, I can’t tell you how many times people got so excited when they heard I went to Penn College, when I walk up to them at the college football class “oh, you played football here?” “Where, Penn State?” “No.” And then they look so deflated like “oh, okay, get out of here.” But yeah, went to UPenn for college, which is in Philly, now entering into year six in the NFL, undrafted out of Penn, played with the Baltimore Ravens my first year. Second year, played for the practice squad with the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans in my first year. Two-week practice squad with the Tennessee Titans my second year, got cut and was told I wasn’t good enough, told I was a scrub, I’m just joking, but basically, that’s the way I look at it- fired and out of a job for an entire year. Did this thing called the vet combine and had a later day in the office, ran a 4.51, and went from having no offers to get on teams in the NFL to having 16 offers to get back into the NFL. The last three years, I’ve been with the Detroit Lions, and then just signed almost two weeks ago, or a week ago now with the New York Jets. So, it’s definitely a new chapter, I’m excited to play in this New York City market, for sure, and just looking forward to the opportunity to get back out there on the field coming off of a pec injury last year. So, I’m literally just a ball and mouse, just been training and training and training some more, trying to be the savage. PG: Definitely. So, your journey has been kind of a roller coaster there. So, I was going to ask you, one: what was it like- was it like a dream come true to play for the Ravens for that short time? BC: Yes, for sure. I mean, I always told people that playing with the Ravens was probably the closest I’ll ever feel to being drafted, just because playing for your hometown team, you get friends and family, everyone knows what you’re doing, where you’re at, and you have the tickets, which is both a blessing and a curse, but I’m also not the guy who’s going to make the team negative. I’m the guy that’s going to embrace the positive parts with you, so you make a play and after a game or practice has blown up, it’s a beautiful thing to have, it’s beautiful to be able to share that. At the time, especially being my first NFL team, as a team you grow up on Sundays to walk in the locker room and see a jersey hanging in the locker room- the team’s jersey hanging in the locker room with your last name on the back, and because it’s a customized jersey you’ve earned and all that, it was truly special. It was a great experience for me, Baltimore was a great place for me to start a career, especially because in Baltimore they’re known for work ethic, work habits and you’d rather come into the NFL and work your tail off, and I’m still working my tail off every single day. Different work ethic and work habits that I saw around the room, the other guys from the way you practice and stuff like that, that has definitely carried with me throughout my NFL journey thus far. So, it was a blessing. PG: Yeah, that must have been a crazy experience. So, the other thing I saw was you were out of football, and then you joined the arena football league, and then you got back into the NFL, so how did that come about and what advice would you give to some players that are struggling, maybe going into arena football, or CFL and trying to get back into NFL? BC: Yeah, for me I actually found luck to play arena football with Orlando Predators, and I remember I flew down and I don’t think there are too many players that have grown up dreaming of playing arena football, you know. I hope nobody takes this offensively, because maybe there is somebody that dreams of playing arena football, but I think for me in my time, I wanted to play the NFL. Arena football, Canadian football I stayed with for two years, arena football maybe a one-year chance to get some film, get some tape and get one more chance at the NFL. I remember that January, I gave myself one year to get back into the NFL and if it wasn’t meant to be, then it wouldn’t happen and I would move on with my life. So, I signed up to play with the Orlando Predators, I was down there for literally three days, and the first day I flew down there, checked into my hotel room, all of this type of stuff- I was waiting on an invite to the veteran combine, but I landed, I remember checking into the hotel, folding my clothes and putting them in the drawers and getting ready to leave there and go to a training camp with the Predators, and an email came through “hey, you’ve been accepted to the combine,” and I was just like “wow! That’s pretty funny how that happened.” So, immediately I talked to the general manager who was very understanding, he understood what my big goal was, and I spoke with him and said “hey man, I really hate to do this to you, but I got this invite to this vet combine and I’ve been training my tail off for this, and I know what I can do. I don’t want to go through a training camp before, like two weeks out. I don’t want to go to a training camp before and bang my shoulder or bang my elbow or bang my knee that slows me up from the numbers that I could put up at this combine.” You know, he understood, I stuck around with the team for a few days, and then went out to the vet combine, and the rest has been “history” since then. I guess the biggest- you know, it wasn’t that long ago so I’m not going to sit here and say I know what it’s like to be an arena football player, but I know the feeling that I had going down there and meeting the guys and all that type of stuff. I’m here for my bigger goal and bigger purpose, and obviously it’s fun to play football, it’s fun to go be in a sport competitively, but I know a guy down there and was there for the opportunity, and my only advice is to continue to do what you do, don’t give up on yourself, obviously. At the end of the day, it’s making sure that you’re willing to do what you need to do on the field to stick out, and that is one of the biggest things of the youngest guys I felt in the NFL as well, especially the young guys who try to make the team, be the defensive lineman that jumps out there on the kickoff, try to time up the kickoff so that you’re one of the first ones down the field. You’ll probably never be starting kickoff of the team, but if somebody is watching film, if the offensive team is watching the film and they look and they see this big ‘ole D-lineman and he’s one of the first people down the field first, second, or third, that just sticks out, that’s one thing in their head and one positive checkmark for you in your head. So, the biggest thing is I think sometimes people go in and say “hey, I’m a wide receiver, I’m a DE, I’m just going to play DE,” type of thing, but to make it in the NFL, you have to stick out on paper. When you’re coming from the “bottom rungs,” you have to be able to do multiple things to stick out on paper just to even give you that first shot. Then once you’re there, you start performing every day, but the biggest thing I would say is to humble yourself and find ways to do multiple things at high levels so that you can get that shot that you’re looking for. PG: Gotcha. So, going back- you went to Penn. Do guys in the NFL rag on you for going to an Ivy League? Do they make fun of you? BC: All the time, every day. It’s good though, it’s a respect thing, it’s a mutual respect thing, but it’s also a joke. You’ve got guys joking saying “you didn’t go to Yale, you didn't’ go to Brown,” and even coaches an all that type of stuff, they talk about what the teams would’ve done to us and whenever I’m initiating the jokes, we woulda blown you out by 21 or stuff like that. I was talking to a dude that went to Baylor or something like that, so it’s all love at the end of the day. It’s a way to be recognized. PG: For sure, they’ll be contacting you for financial advice and stuff like that. BC: We’ll see, right? PG: I see all of your posts, I know. So yeah, with the New York Jets now, what are you looking to get into position-wise, or are you going to be competing for a starting job, a backup job, special teams, everything, anything? BC: Yeah, I’ll be competing for starting, so I’m looking forward to going out there. No, for me like I said, I said it last year: at the end of the day, I’m a competitor, so I don’t see it that way- I’m going there and I’m trying to start at whatever position I can, whatever position they need me at, however, I can help the team, that’s great. I’m all-in and humble enough and the love to do that, but if you’re a dude like me that sat out last year, I’m more than grateful for my opportunity, but I’m also one of the ultimate competitors, so at the end of the day, anything less than that is failure in my book, maybe not failure in other people's’ books, but other than that, anything less than that is failure in my books. At the end of the day, whatever I can do to help the team is where I’m looking forward to making an impact on the field, whether that be going to the field on Sundays, lining up an outside backer, also special teams and wherever I need to be and being a loud and clear for the quarterback. Like I said, I’m going in there with eyes focused, and locked and loaded and ready to make an impact. PG: One, have you moved into somewhere around New York? Two, is it going to be exciting again to be playing closer to home? BC: Yeah man, that will definitely be exciting. It’s actually funny, my wife and I moved to New Jersey about a year and a half ago since she works in the city, fortunately, the way it works is beautiful, everything coming full-circle this year, not too far from the facilities at this point, so I’m already ‘home,’ I guess. It’s a beautiful thing, there are so many layers to how this thing worked out perfectly, so you know, just adds another level of excitement to have family, obviously going to Detroit week in and week out, it’s a lot more difficult that going 20, 40, 3o hours up the road to check out your team, son, son-in-law, brother, cousin, etc, nephew play a game. I’m very excited for this point in my career, I’m a veteran, and I’m excited for, like I said, this new chapter, but I’m very excited for the way that my family and I can also enjoy this chapter as well. PG: Also, by the way, congrats on getting married this past fall. BC: Thank you! PG: Did your wife grow up a Jets fan? BC: No, no, actually. That’s a great question, I’m not even sure if my wife watched football growing up, to be honest with you. She was more of a basketball gal, I guess. She’s a Jets fan now, I know that’s for sure. PG: Now we’ll get into some more fun questions and some semi non-football questions. So, I know I’d said between- you post in the middle, a solid amount. I know you’re not against it, so I just wanted to hear your take on social media with athletes and now, it’s pretty much everyone is tweeting and stuff, politicians, and everybody. So, I just wanted to hear your take on social media. BC: Right. Yeah, I think social media is great if you’re not a slave to social media. I think my biggest battle with it is social media can enhance you, it can grow your following, grow your brand, it can put money in your pocket at times, it is another leg of free market, but I think it kind of- there is a positive with social media, there it also a negative with social media. But there is a positive with everything and there is a negative with everything, so finding the right balance, I think sometimes the negatives of it are the “slaves” to social media, slaves to life, slaves mentally to how many posts they need to do. One of the things I’m always thinking about trying to do more, but I just can’t bring myself to doing certain things for the camera and stuff, whether if it’s something as simple as me working out in the day, adding it to my story and always pulling out my camera before a set, and I’m not trying to knock on anybody, if you can do it, that’s great. But, for me when I’m in the zone, I really can’t, so I think social media is great to have a lot of power to connect people along with connecting fans to athletes, the biggest issue as well is you’ve got to keep your mental in check. Like I said, it has some negatives and if you get caught in a bad moment or an impulsive moment, you can also say the wrong thing. Like J Cole says, it takes forever to build a legacy or a team, it takes a second to totally backtrack from all of that, I completely butchered the quote and I can Google it, but you get my point. It takes forever to build a name, it takes a second to completely destroy yourself. PG: Just like anything in life, everything has pros and cons to it. BC: What do you think? PG: About social media? BC: Yeah. PG: I mean, I love social media. If I didn’t have social media, then PG Sports wouldn’t be what it is today, and I wouldn’t be talking with you now either. BC: Very true, very true. PG: If you kind of think about it, it’s pretty crazy- like before Twitter, no athletes were on social media engaging with fans, and so I think it’s a great thing for that. For paparazzi and ratting people out- like the other day when the clip came out of Odell Beckham Jr. getting punched at the club, I don’t really know if it was him or not, but that just sucks for people, you guys can’t go out and enjoy yourselves. BC: I totally missed that. Odell Beckham Jr. got punched at the club? PG: Supposedly. It could’ve been some other guy with blonde hair. So, and then another thing that I really like about you is the understanding that there is life after football and you’re still young and you can still do stuff. I know a lot of people have trouble with transitioning from football life to regular life. I know that you’ve seen the article where you were working on Wall Street, your difference is that you went to Ivy League, but obviously, all of these other players went to college too, why do you get it versus some people that just don’t get it? BC: I think it’s a number of different things. I think a lot more guys “get it” now. I’ve never met people that think it’s wrong to focus in on football- football is one of those things where if you do it right, you don’t ever have to work another day in your life, you have the opportunity to make so much money is such a short amount of time. If you do it right if you pour yourself into it the right way- I shouldn’t say that, but if you capitalize on the plays you make, you can really make a multi-million dollar brand, name, industry in the form of your personal wealth. For me, what I always kind of think of is at the end of the day, just because I’m doing stuff off the field, some people view that as distractions, some people look at it like- and again, that’s why I won’t say the word ‘pouring’ myself into football, because I’m clearly pouring myself into football as much as I can, but however at the end of the day, I’ve worked out seven hours today, but I still have plenty of time to do something else. So, instead of me sleeping the rest of the day or playing video games, which is nothing against others, sometimes I get my Madden streaks and I’m playing the guys in Madden and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, I also know there are other things I can be doing, I can do stuff that interests me, general interest and hobbies. There is also stuff like if God forbid football was over for me tomorrow, I would be bored as hell the rest of my life if I didn’t have anything else to do, you know? So, it’s looking at how I can use this platform now to set up the life I want for myself and my family, for the rest of their lives, for our lives together, you know? That is the difference side. PG: I was going to say better watch out for hating on the gamers. I don’t know if you’ve seen that guy ninja, he’s making like half a million a month now. BC: I mean, the Esports industry and all that type of stuff, it’s growing like crazy. You see a bunch of players jumping on it now, it’s a beautiful thing don’t get me wrong. That’s his interest, his hobby, that’s his life, so my biggest thing is I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship, I’ve always been interested in owning my own, so while I have this platform, while I can do a bit of trial and error without necessarily feeling it “hard in the pocket,” I’m going to go ahead and do that. A real-life example: I used to always be of the belief that, and ignorantly and I’m going to truly say this, I was ignorant that you get what you put into it, you work hard and you can make whatever you want happen, but now after a year of my wife and I started a real estate company, one for rentals and one for flips, after a year of doing that, now I’m truly of the belief that it takes money to make money. And the reason why i say that is there is a lot of stuff that you’ll come across while you’re learning how to do something that if you don’t have the pocket or the financial backing to alleviate that issue, then you’ll never actually be able to get off the ground and withstand the little mishaps that occur as you’re trying to start something special, right? So, that is one of the biggest lessons and slices of humble pie. But, the beauty is that God has blessed us with a primary income, and we’re trying to do this thing and build this thing off the field, and secondary income, so it’s a lot easier for us to manage and maneuver stuff while we’re not financially dependent on this to work, you know? Like I have houses that are under contract now, or houses that are on the market now. At the end of the day it’s like if all my money was tied up into it, then it’s a totally different story. I’m really biting my nails wanting to sell because I’m a competitor and I love it, I love what I do, no matter the different hats that I wear, but at the end of the day, if all of my savings and we couldn’t pay our bills until these things were sold, my conversations with my realtors, contractors, everybody would be a lot different, I would be operating from a place of stress rather than a place of learning, understanding, and maybe a little bit of stress. So I know you didn’t really ask for all of that, but just a little bit of knowledge. PG: I may have a little third thing for you, a little blog of you and your wife flipping houses. Live reality show? BC: Somebody needs to get us on HGTV. PG: Why not? So, I have a random question for you and then I got two more for you and then we’re done. So, how do you feel about what Lavar Ball and big ball are doing? BC: Awesome, it’s a beautiful thing. Do I like Lavar Ball’s personality? Not really. PG: I’m talking more about them creating a brand and stuff like that. BC: When I think of people, it’s like Floyd Mayweather. Are you in love with Floyd Mayweather’s personality? I think some people are, but it’s also marketing, they just sell and it’s a gimmick, so I think similar to Lavar Ball, I don’t believe half of the stuff he is saying, but if he does, then good for him. At the end of the day, I respect the hustle, I respect the entrepreneurship, the empire-building, and for me, I’m always trying to learn from people. I’m sure there are plenty of lessons I can take from him and I’m doing it, it may not be actually how I’m doing it, but it’s still a lesson. Like I was talking about the other day, there are certain things I’ve done in my life just to figure out whether I ever want to do them again or not, talking about internships and jobs and all that type of stuff. There are just certain things you do to cross off your list, and those are the lessons I’m talking about. I completely respect it, I’m always looking at guys, I haven’t looked at Lavar Ball at all, but I watch a lot of people’s interviews, let’s just say Jay-Z, Warren Buffett, just from all different walks of life and stuff and I’ve really taken a liking to and respect to people that are hustling, and it doesn’t matter what level you’re hustling at, but you’re just trying to put it together and create something special. Really, the one thing that I do value and like about him is the fact that he’s not putting limitations on himself, when we grow up and we get older we get more cynical, “that’s too hard, so I can’t really do that,” we lose that side of imagination, but if we keep that, we can be very surprised about how much we are actually able to accomplish. A lot of people kill their own dreams in their own heads before they even get the chance to fill them out a bit just because they talk themselves out of it. So, I really respect what he’s trying to do and accomplish. PG: For sure. In my head, I gave him a marketing man of the year 2017. BC: Yeah, you’re right, he definitely deserves that. PG: I really like it obviously because of PG Sports and stuff, so I’m interested, but obviously they’re on a whole other scale, with three boys potentially to be in the NBA. Anyways, my last question- actually, while you were talking about Lavar Ball, I forgot that I actually made, you know how he was on the practice spot for the Jets? BC: Oh, I had no idea about that. PG: He was, so I made a shirt in the New York Jets font that says “New York,” so it doesn't get copyright, right? The 99 with the Ball on the back, so I’ll have to send it to you, maybe rock it on the first day of camp. BC: Yeah there we go, I’ll support. I didn’t know that at all. PG: I think that would actually be really funny, and obviously I think he will still be in the spotlight in a couple of months, so I think people will still get it. BC: Right, right. For sure. That’s funny, I’d appreciate that. PG: I just put two and two together, because I have it on my store and stuff and everything. Anyways, just trying to wrap things up, just want to know if you want to shout-out anybody, and good luck on the season. BC: Yeah man, thank you so much. Obviously, not too big on shout-outs, but shout out to God and my wife and family, and @BCope51 is my Instagram if you want to follow and all that type of stuff. I appreciate you for having me on, obviously honored to be the first episode, and good luck on the podcast, good luck in your own future and all that type of stuff. Thanks for having me on! PG: I want to shout of Woody for putting this together.