By Andrew Goodman
Sitting across the table from Zach Kerr can be intimidating. 6’2 and 335 pounds of pure NFL defensive lineman, the 24 year old Indianapolis Colts’ Rookie flashed a big smile as our food arrived. The Colts had just defeated the Houston Texans to clinch the AFC South Division title and we were having dinner with family and friends at his favorite restaurant in Indianapolis, Ted’s Montana Grill. The celebratory moment was the culmination of Kerr’s hard work and dedication both on and off the football field.
I first saw Kerr play in high school in 2008, but we would not formally meet until seven years later when I became one of his financial advisors. I was introduced to Kerr just after he had signed with his agent last January. Like many college players, Kerr had little money. Though it was the middle of winter, he did not own a winter coat because he could not afford one. Once homeless as a child, Kerr dedicated his time and effort to understanding the fiscal responsibilities that came with becoming a professional athlete. He opened his first bank account and began learning the basics about how to manage the finances he would earn in the NFL.
From January to March however, Kerr’s primary focus was getting to the NFL. He trained for the NFL Combine for ten weeks at EXOS in Pensacola Florida to raise his draft stock. His performance at the combine was solid, though Kerr admits, “you wear down from all that repetition. I met a lot of good people but it’s a three day long journey. I was taking interviews and exams with a ton of teams.” Though physically and mentally drained from the combine, Kerr insisted that he workout at his Pro Day. While Kerr did not need to workout for his Pro Day because he was at the Combine, he chose to because he knew there would be 16 NFL scouts to see him and that it would give his Delaware teammates a stage to impress. Loyalty has never been a problem for Kerr, “If I can go to war for you and I can go to war with you lets go,” he says of his devotion to his teammates.
The first night of the draft, Kerr and I watched with his agent and several other college players. The atmosphere was enjoyable and relaxed as none of the players expected to be drafted in the 1st round. The consensus among everyone present was that Kerr was assured of being drafted, but as he would soon learn, nothing with the NFL Draft is a certainty. For the second and third nights of the draft, a film crew from the University of Delaware was dispatched to his mother’s home to film him. Projected to go in the 4th or 5th round, Kerr had to endure as a both rounds passed without his name being called. When two kickers were drafted back to back with the 12th and 13th picks in the 7th round, Kerr was no longer impatient, he was angry. Still not selected as the draft ended Kerr was immensely disappointed. “I didn’t want to be around anybody after the draft,” says Kerr.
Within minutes after the draft ended, a silver lining emerged; teams came calling. Kerr decided to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts because he had worked out for them a couple of times and he was very comfortable with their General Manager, Ryan Grigson. Kerr arrived at the Colts rookie camp in May with a chip on his shoulder determined to make the 53 man roster. By the end of August, Kerr had established himself and made the team. Told he would play in the Colt’s first game of the season against the Denver Broncos, Kerr’s biggest worry was not lining up against legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, it was finding a dress shirt that fit him for the trip to Denver.
Now that he has established himself as a member of the Colts organization, Kerr is putting the financial lessons he has learned into practice. “I can handle the money because if you remain the same person money should not change you.” Kerr is a man of simple pleasures. He recently purchased a 2007 Dodge Charger from a teammate with 150,000 miles on it for $4,000 to get around town, especially to the grocery store to purchase his beloved Double Stuf Oreo’s, Peanut M&M’s, and Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Says Kerr of his financial outlook, “I may buy some clothes or eat out once in awhile but I’m not a big spender, I like to watch my money grow.”
Entering the Colts playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday, Zach Kerr has 3 sacks and 4 quarterback hurries.