by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
Competitive nature used in business arena
The Jaguars may be almost old enough to drive, the franchise turns 15 this season, but some of its former players have chosen not to put the River City in the rearview mirror and become a permanent part of the community.
Currently, about 30 former Jaguars make Jacksonville their home and they have raised families, built businesses and contributed to the community. Sure, people know the names of former Jaguars Tony Boselli, Jeff Lageman and Tom McManus because the public can hear them regularly on local radio and television stations, but these players have all also decided to complete the aforementioned tasks here in Jacksonville. They are not alone, though.
Bryan Barker was part of the original Jaguars team to take the field in 1995 and he wanted to keep the group together even after moving on to the Washington Redskins after the 2000 season.
“When I played with the Kansas City Chiefs, they had the Chiefs Ambassadors, which was an alumni group of former players,” said Barker. “I thought that was a great idea and I wanted to develop something like that in Jacksonville, but we hadn’t been around long enough to develop alumni.”
Barker became interested in developing an alumni group as the team’s 10th anniversary approached in 2004, which was a time he felt he would soon become an alumnus. His plans were to finish his contract with the Redskins and return to Jacksonville, but he was picked up by the Green Bay Packers in 2004 and added another year with the St. Louis Rams in 2005 to finish a 16-year career.
“My motto during my career was, ‘I’m fooling someone for another day,’” said Barker.
Despite his career enjoying an extension, Barker was preparing for his life post-football by earning his license to sell insurance and started working with Argus Holdings, Inc., an employee benefits management and consulting company.
“The business is highly competitive, which I’m used to. Relationship driven. Team oriented,” said Barker. “All the things I was used to with football, so it was a perfect fit.”
After retirement, he also continued his involvement with the community. His wife, Leah, noticed that there weren’t many opportunities for girls to attend celebrity sports camps, so they decided to create the Let Us Play! Foundation which hosts sports camps for girls and Let Us Play! Junior 2K race for all kids held each year at the stadium. Over 3,000 kids participated in the race last year.
“We have a great relationship with the University of North Florida for the camps,” said Barker. “They also developed a research project along with the camp. They followed the first group of girls who participated in the camps and discovered that participation in sports helped their development.”
After tours of duty in Kansas City, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, why pick Jacksonville?
“I was actually born in Jacksonville, my dad was in the Navy, but I left when I was 2 and was raised in Northern California,” said Barker. “After playing here, we just knew this was the place we wanted to be.”
The same thing eventually happened to defensive lineman Don Davey.
“I grew up in Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin and played football for the Green Bay Packers before coming to the Jaguars,” said Davey. “We just always thought we would return home after my playing days, but we never expected the effect living in a beach community would have on us.”
The beach along with the start of a family — he and wife Kristen are proud parents of five daughters — caused a change of “retirement” plans.
Don holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and considers himself very “cerebral.” During the off seasons he would research financial markets and use statistical models he developed from his engineering education to devise investment strategies. When he was with the Jaguars he started to talk to teammates about his approach to the market and he developed a client list in the lockers. Davey founded Disciplined Equity Management to offer that service to a broader customer base after he retired in 1998 and his client list now tops 100.
“It started out with football players, but we now handle a variety of high net worth clients,” said Davey. “It’s really taken on a life of its own.”
Davey is also a partner in a Firehouse Subs franchise consisting of 10 stores in Orlando.
One of the toughest parts about retiring and becoming a businessman for Davey has been finding a new arena of competition.
“Everyone wants their business to be successful, so that is competition, but it’s not the same,” said Davey. “We all have to find a place to channel that competitive energy and triathlons have been a perfect fit for me.”
Another Jaguar alumnus has made his business about providing the perfect fit, be it a kitchen remodel or building a new single family home. Paul Frase was a defensive lineman for the first Jaguars team and has operated Paul Frase Homes since 2002.
“The market is a little tight right now, but we are doing what we need to do to make it through,” said Frase. “We do everything from kitchen remodeling to commercial build outs to single family homes.”
Frase and his wife Alison have also been giving back through nonprofit work with the Joshua Frase Foundation, which they created to raise money for research in the area of neuromuscular disease. Their son Joshua is afflicted with Myotubular Myopathym, a very rare and deadly muscular disorder. The children are given a 50 percent chance to reach their second birthday. Joshua is now 12 years old and is an honor roll student at Landrum Middle School.
“It’s hard work running a nonprofit, my wife does a lot of it. She is the glue that keeps it together,” said Frase. “We have been able to raise almost six million (dollars) for research, and they are actually really close to making some breakthroughs in muscle cell injection therapy with our help.”