How former BYU football player Andrew Rich walked away from the NFL

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10 2012 6:07 p.m. MDT

Another epiphany played a role in Rich’s decision to walk away. One day at practice Rich was looking around and realized he was playing on the same field as NFL superstars like Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Beanie Wells. Suddenly, he felt he had nothing else to prove in football.

“My whole life I’ve had to take the long route to get places and prove I was good enough to play. It was very gratifying for me to go out there and say I can compete with these guys,” Rich said. “Once I did that, I had nothing else to prove. I had convinced the most important person — myself.”

Kimberly went to Arizona to spend the weekend with her husband. The couple stayed in a cabin with Hall and his wife. Kimberly hoped her visit would energize Andrew's spirit. Over a few days she got a glimpse of life as an undrafted free agent and started to understand why he wasn’t himself.

“I thought this was his dream. We talked over the phone and I knew he wasn’t happy. I thought it (camp) was hard or that he was nervous. You don’t want your husband to regret anything 10 years down the road,” Kimberly Rich said. “But it was an eye-opener for me.”

“Once she saw it wasn’t all daisies and roses, she was more understanding,” Rich said.

When the weekend was over, Kimberly prepared to leave for the airport. Secretly, Rich broke the news to Hall, his coaches and agent. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity. All were surprised but supportive.

"The bottom line is you've got to make the decision that is right for you, right for your family and your lifestyle," Hall said. "Andrew felt that was the right decision and I supported him in it. He's still happy with his decision."

Then he surprised his wife by joining her on the flight home.

“I told my wife I was going with her and she thought I was kidding. She found out that I wasn’t,” Rich said. “She was impressed at how I had orchestrated everything.”

No regrets

One year later, Rich has not second-guessed his decision one bit.

Today the former BYU safety works as salesman for Social5, a business that helps companies increase their online and social media presence. He is also considering a graduate degree.

He misses being around the coaches and players, but doesn’t miss feeling sick the night before the game or having every conversation revolve around football. He does not miss the injuries.

“As much as I love the game, it’s a brutal sport and it took a toll on my body. It’s really nice to wake up Sunday morning and feel really good, to walk without limping and not have a headache. There are a lot of things I value more than football, my health being one.”

Another priority over football is caring for his young family. The couple’s son, Harper, was born on April 28 of this year with a heart defect and spent the first month of his life in Primary Children’s Medical Center. Doctors found a hole between the bottom two chambers of his heart and two arteries were not functioning properly. As a result, little Harper has undergone a few intense heart surgeries, but is doing much better.

“It’s a blessing he (Andrew) didn’t play (in the NFL). I don’t know if we could have gone through what we did apart,” Kimberly said. “It’s been a blessing to have him here. Our prayers have been answered, and I couldn’t ask for more.”

When asked to speak to youth groups about his experiences and decision-making, Rich encourages them do what is right and let the consequence follow.

“What changed me and my behavior the most was gaining a testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel. That’s been my foundation,” Rich said. “The most important thing I could be doing is living a righteous life, serving and following what I believe, no matter what capacity I’m in.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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