Brandon Copeland is a force to be reckoned with on and off the field. The New York Jets linebacker had an impressive 2018 season, and after re-signing with the team on March 25, he is going back for another season in 2019. On top of his success on the field, Copeland has created a legacy for himself in the financial realm.
Copeland is currently teaching URBS 140: Inequity and Empowerment, a money management course at Penn, after playing football for the Quakers for four years and graduating in 2013. Taught with Dr. Brian Peterson, the class is a small seminar about the power of financial literacy.
“For me, personally, it’s about giving access to information," Copeland said. "As a professional athlete, I’ve been fortunate because people want my money for better or worse, so being smart enough to ask the right questions lends itself to me actually learning about the different things that people want to take my money and do with it."
This class is important because Copeland and Peterson are teaching more than money management — they are bringing new ideas to the table.
“It’s a shame that if I wasn’t a professional athlete, I would never know about [these things] because no one would ever tell me or bring these ideas to me," Copeland said. “It’s a shame that access to information is limited based upon how much money you have."
According to Copeland, this ties directly into why he is returning to the Jets for another season despite reaching his career goals and saving 90 percent of his earnings.
“If I was 10 years removed from the NFL, this wouldn’t be a story,” he said. “My words carry weight with [students] now because I’m an NFL player, so I have to keep this thing going because of my own goals and aspirations. I want to be the greatest.”
In 2018, Copeland joined the short list of former Ivy League players to register five sacks in the NFL. This impressive feat came in his first season on the Jets, when he also recorded a career-high 11 assists.
Despite reaching these heights, Copeland explained that he has learned some important lessons from teaching that will make him an even better player next season and the seasons to come.
“Teaching has been a big 'get out of my comfort zone' type of challenge week in and week out, [with] having to prepare PowerPoint slides and figuring out how to make my message come across and develop a flow,” Copeland said.
“My training [pushes] me as much out of my comfort zone as possible," he added. "I think what has actually made me different from a lot of other people is that I actually enjoy being out of my comfort zone.”
In addition to continuing to reach into an area that's new to him, Copeland will look to continue his strong play on the field for the Jets next season.
“The Jets are the best opportunity for me to go back and repeat what I did last year and then improve on that and excel,” he said. “I’m going to prove not only to myself but to everyone else watching that what I did last year is only the beginning."
“I’m going into the offseason, and now I also know exactly what I need to work on to be a better outside linebacker.”
Copeland has even developed a motto to explain the success that he pursues on a daily basis.
“Extraordinary is where I live and being uncomfortable is my beautiful bliss.”
Although his NFL career is young, Brandon Copeland has a bright future as he expertly navigates both the classroom and the playing field.