When Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Derrick Morgan said he was retiring from the NFL after playing nine seasons for five different head coaches, fans wondered what he was going to do next.
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According to LinkedIn, many former NFL players go on to own their own businesses or coach other potential football players. But Morgan had a specific plan to help those in need around the country, and he's been preparing for it since receiving his college degree in business management from Georgia Tech and later getting his executive MBA from the University of Miami in 2016.
"I played nine years," Morgan told Stuart Varney of "Varney & Co." on FOX Business. "I've had nine surgeries over my career. I always said I was going to play as long as it makes sense. The stuff off the field is becoming way more purposeful for me, and it stimulates me a lot more."
He posted on social media about his plan, saying "I'm looking forward to this next phase of life and doing purposeful work through [the KNGDM Opportunity Zone Impact Fund] and helping create more opportunities for those who are underserved and overlooked." And he meant it.
Morgan, 30, has been a real estate investor for years, but his recent venture is focused on communities that are too often overlooked. He started an opportunity zone fund to help invest in marginalized communities. Opportunity zones are becoming more prevalent in the United States, especially with celebrities. Opportunity zones began in 2017 when a tax law came into effect. It allows investors to direct capital gains into efforts in low-income areas. The gains have no limits as to how much you can invest and how much tax can be avoided.
There are thousands of OZs in the country with a required poverty rate of at least 20 percent or a median household income that is lower than 80 percent of the area around it. Morgan admitted when he heard about opportunity zones, he was afraid it was just a "tax credit for gentrification."
To combat that, Morgan made sure his OZ investments take social returns into account, he told FOX Business.
"I looked up every place I've ever lived before college [and it's] an opportunity zone," Morgan said. "The community looks at [athletes] as the pinnacle, and they listen to us, so to go back into these areas that are underserved and marginalized and be a voice and an advocate for that community is what we're trying to do. I see me and athletes and influencers as being an intermediary [between] those that have the investment dollars and want to commit to these communities."
[To] be a voice and an advocate for that community is what we're trying to do
Partnering with Activated Capital, they measure investments on access to a good education, economic inclusion, and development in the community itself. Morgan formed the KNGDM Impact Fund with the goal of raising $50 million for real-estate investment as well as businesses operating in OZs.
He credited his smart investments with why he was able to retire at the age of 30.
"It's all about surrounding yourself with the right team," Morgan said. "I've been very intentional with how I increase my network."
Though he did joke that 30 years old in the NFL is like 60 years old everywhere else.