The New England Patriots shocked fans with the recent release of veteran cornerback Leigh Bodden. After signing a four-year contract worth $22 million in 2010, Bodden was to be a key player for the Patriots. However, Bodden is now a free agent and could join another NFL team in a few days. But even if Bodden never plays another down, he is well prepared for life after the NFL. During an interview with rolling out sports, Bodden discussed how he fell in love with football, how he gives back to the community and the importance of saving money for the future. –amir shaw

At what moment in your youth did you realize that you had the potential to be an NFL player?

My family and I moved to Maryland when I was in the fifth grade and I started playing football with guys at school and in the neighborhood. I started playing for a team in 10th grade. It was every kid’s dream to play football after watching the NFL on TV.  But during high school and college, I realized that playing pro football could be a reality.

 What are some things you have done to give back to the community?

I do a lot of mentoring and I teach kids to stay in school. During the holidays, I give away toys and food for kids in need. This past summer, I taught a financial literacy class with kids in order to teach them how to handle money. When you’re young, you don’t think about handling money. But there will be a point when you have to know how to manage your money.

Speaking of financial literacy, we all hear stories of NFL players who go broke after their playing days. How can that be avoided?

It’s tough. There are a lot of the people who take advantage of the players. Sometimes you never know. You can’t let someone take care of your money without checking on it. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can’t spend as much as you’re getting. A lot of guys spend money during the off season because they have time on their hands. But it’s important for players to take some classes to further their education and prepare for life after football. It’s not a job with longevity. You will need something to fall back on.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.