The former Washington State Cougar and Seattle Seahawk has an auto detailing business, a string of self-storage companies and he’s been part of a radio show.
Inside sports business
Running a business is tough enough in the best of times.
But it’s another thing entirely when even getting out of bed some mornings is difficult because your body is wracked with pain. That’s what former Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant says is one of the hurdles faced in transitioning from the NFL to the business world.
The Tacoma native has spent three years making that jump. He has a successful string of self-storage companies, an auto-detail business and a radio show he produces and co-hosts with former Huskies running back Terry Hollimon.
But some mornings, Trufant feels the effects from a playing career that included at least 10 concussions as well as back and neck injuries.
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“There are days when it’s very tough,” said Trufant, 36, who played here from 2003 through 2012, then retired after being cut by Jacksonville in the 2013 preseason. “I really have to roll out of bed. Like, I literally roll out of bed on to the floor and then I have to stand up. I’ve got a bad back and of course, I’ve got a sore neck. There were years in the NFL where I made just as many tackles as a linebacker sometimes, and that’s not a good thing for a corner.’’
And when you’re the boss, the business can’t wait. So, the planning, choices and partnerships selected become key.
Though players such as Trufant earn staggering sums — he was paid roughly $36 million over his decadelong career — much of that can vanish because of mismanagement, unforeseen expenses and loss of future earning potential due to health.
Trufant figures he’s lucky. His financial advisers and lawyers provided advice that enabled him to prepare for life after football.
Though never formally trained in business — majoring in communications and broadcasting at Washington State — Trufant began researching opportunities while with the Seahawks.
He had his car detailed at the Seahawks’ training facility. During his final season in 2012, he figured it would be “fun” to start his own mobile detailing company.
“That was really was the first business I had,’’ he said. “It wasn’t a lot of money, but it kept some revenue coming in, and I was able to pay some bills and stuff. It was really fun. I got to stay in touch with some of the guys.’’
Trufant Auto Detail is still the team’s car detailer.
While launching that business, he heard friends and players talking up the self-storage industry. Trufant figured it might be something “safe’’ he could manage on his own without too many employees.
He began managing a property for Extra Space Storage — the second-biggest operator of self-storage units in the nation — and eventually sold them a different property.
The company invited Trufant to its Utah headquarters and offered to partner with him, purchasing and developing other storage properties.
Trufant had to put “trust” in his new partners. That wasn’t easy for him, but he realized they knew the business and that he’d benefit by taking on some help.
After all, there admittedly were mornings he was too sore to get out of bed without rolling on to his floor.
“You can’t do everything on your own,’’ Trufant said. “You’re not going to be Superman. You’re not the strongest guy on the field all the time, and you’re not the fastest guy on the field all the time.
“So I think that transitions over to business. You need some business partners with you. … If you don’t have somebody you can lean on, eventually you’re going to burn out. So that’s been my biggest thing that I’ve had to learn.’’
Trufant also stuck with his college broadcasting roots, launching The Barbershop podcast in 2014 with Hollimon and Gee Scott — who, incidentally, spent a decade running the Seahawks’ car-detailing service that Trufant wound up replacing. Scott wound up being hired to co-host his own show in 2015 with Justin Myers at 710 ESPN Seattle.
Meanwhile, the station also hired Trufant and Hollimon to co-host The Barbershop with Scott. That continued until last summer when a 710 ESPN shake-up led to Myers being fired and Scott reassigned and given an evening show that ran in The Barbershop’s former time slot.
The Barbershop was dropped along with Trufant and Hollimon. It got picked up by Sports Radio KJR on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m., though that trial stint is set to end next week.
Trufant wouldn’t go into details on his departure from 710 ESPN. He did say he has learned from a handful of business disappointments.
“I think in business, I don’t think that you can be the nice guy all the time,” he said. “I give people the benefit of the doubt, and I think in business that can sometimes come back to bite you.’’
It’s especially important, he added, for young players to beware of agents and advisers looking to take advantage of them.
“That’s part of the reason a lot of these guys go broke,’’ he said. “They’re getting the wrong advice or they’re treated like cash cows.’’
Trufant said he was fortunate that a former WSU teammate, safety Lamont Thompson, broke into the NFL a year before him. Trufant saw how Thompson was being properly handled and signed with his agents.
“I’d seen somebody else do it,” Trufant said. “There was proof there.’’
In other words, as with his current business philosophy, he did some homework before committing. Key advice for players who someday might be rolling out of bed in pain with no one but themselves to look out for them.