Troy Vincent had an illustrious football career at each level he played on. At Pennsbury High School, he dominated and earned several high-major division one offers. At Wisconsin, he was a first team All-American and a runner-up for the Jim Thorpe Award. In Philadelphia, he made five straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2003.
But even though he retired from the game eight years ago, he’s just hitting the prime of a new part of his career: working in the league office.
“In this capacity, I have the opportunity to continue to be a contributor,” Vincent, who is now the NFL executive vice president of football operations, said. “I can touch the player, touch the coach and touch the fan. It allows me to still be a positive, active contributor in growing and developing, but more importantly, preserving the game of football. It has meant so much to me.”
One former NFL player, Dwight Hollier, called Vincent “a visionary” in how he restructured the rookie symposium. Roger Goodell said in March after Vincent earned a promotion that “he has done an exceptional job growing services to our players and former players.” Gary Baxter, another retiree, said a program Vincent initiated “is the best program available to players, period.”
Baxter was talking about the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial (BM&E) Program. While he was playing for the Eagles in the late ’90s, Vincent felt players severely lacked business knowledge. Later on, he met with Ken Shropshire at the University of Pennsylvania and near the end of his career with the Bills, helped create the BM&E to educate players about starting a business and responsibly investing and managing money.
“Regardless of what your future career goals are, the best thing you can possibly do to set yourself up for success is to attend one of these programs,” Baxter said. “You cannot put a price on the education you will receive. Plus, you are learning from some of the greatest and most respected business minds in the country.”
Several years later, after he became the head of player engagement in 2010, Vincent shifted focus at the rookie symposium to a peer-to-peer model with the motto: “I know what I can be by what I see.”
“When you see a guy who’s worn the boots, the connection is powerful,” Hollier said.
The NFL recently announced a minor, but significant change to how the NFL College Advisory Committee (CAC) evaluates underclassmen who may enter the draft. The CAC may now offer three potential assessments as opposed to the previous five: first-round grade, second-round grade and stay in school.
According to Vincent, the CAC is about 85 percent accurate in their first- and second-round evaluations. However, starting with the third round, the accuracy of their assessments begins to significantly drop. The NFL will also limit the number of underclassmen who can be evaluated to five from a single school.
“Part of what we’re trying to communicate is this is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make,” he said. “Know the facts; make an informed decision.”
Vincent transitioned to the NFL office about a year and a half after losing out on the NFLPA executive director position in 2009. Although he was a finalist to succeed Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA hired outside legal counsel to investigate allegations from anonymous sources that in 2007 Vincent released privileged information for his own business gains. Investigations later found no evidence to support the claim, but it cost Vincent his career with the NFLPA nonetheless, according to the Daily News.
Before his departure from the NFLPA, he served the organization for nearly his entire 15-year playing career as a union rep and eventually as president. In his last few years with the Eagles, he won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, Byron “Whizzer” White Award and Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award.
When he was named the Sporting News #1 Good Guy, he became the first NFL player to earn all four accolades.
“One thing I always respected about Troy was he didn’t just lead on the field,” Steve Spagnuolo, who coached Vincent in Philadelphia from 1999-2003, said. “He was leading in the locker room, and he was leading at night when he and his teammates hung out. Troy would always take a young guy under his wing and help him mature through the league, and not just football, but with everything else. He took a lot of pride in that.”
This passion he carries with him originated when he was a child, Vincent says. Two of his grandparents, including World War II veteran Jefferson Vincent, played a significant role in his upbringing.
“He said life’s simple, it’s always the right time to do the right thing,” Vincent said. “If you make yourself available, if you serve others, you’ll always have what you want. I stand on what my grandfather shared with me and use athletics as a foundation to do greater good for people other than you.
“What football has done in transforming my life, the values I’ve learned in football far exceeds anything I’ve ever learned in any educational system. I believe it’s my responsibility to share those life lessons, that insight. I can’t talk enough about what football has done for me and many of my colleagues, my family members. Being able to give back to the game means so much.”