ATLANTA - New Falcons linebacker Brandon Copeland says, modestly, he's not sure if he's the first active NFL player to also be a college professor. But, he admits, he's probably the first Ivy League professor to also play at the highest level of professional football.
Copeland, who signed with Atlanta as a free agent this offseason, teaches a financial literacy class at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. The Wharton School alum also offers the same classes online to anyone for a monthly fee.
The desire to teach the class traces to his own experiences.
"My wife and I, we bought our first home," said Copeland. "I remember her asking me, 'hey, does everything look right on this closing document?' I'm looking through these 40 pages, like ... 'I hope it's right!'"
Copeland says the online class, called Life 101, is open to anyone and costs $12 per month. He says the material covered online is the same as what he covers with his Ivy League students.
"Budgeting is important," said Copeland, as he listed some topics the class covers. "Investing. Retirement investing. Good versus bad debt. Credit, insurance, wills and estates. How to buy a house."
While Copeland is all about being smart with money -- he says he saves or invests the vast majority of his NFL salary, skipping out on many luxuries -- that's not how he sees the class. Copeland likes to use the phrase "democratizing information;" essentially, making crucial financial information available to everyone, regardless of who you are.
"Once we get that paycheck, once we get that job, our learning stops. We don't understand how to take that next step and make our money our employees. That's my goal, that's how we create financial freedom, that's what we're doing with Life 101 for those that want it."
So while Copeland may be the first Ivy League professor in the NFL, both teaching and football run in the family. Copeland's grandfather is Roy Hilton, who played in the NFL, including one season with the Falcons. He also, Copeland says, worked as a substitute teacher.