Nnamdi Asomugha

How ex-Raiders star Nnamdi Asomugha transitioned from NFL to Broadway

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USATSI

How ex-Raiders star Nnamdi Asomugha transitioned from NFL to Broadway

Nnamdi Asomugha finds himself under a new set of bright lights. The former Raiders star cornerback, who ended his 11-year NFL career with the 49ers, now finds himself on Broadway

"I started the decade at the Pro Bowl, and I ended the decade on Broadway," Asomugha said in a recent interview with CBS' Dana Jacobson, which aired Friday. "I was like, 'This was really surreal.' This is not a dream that I ever had. And now, this is so clearly what I should be doing." 

Asomugha, now 38 years old, first dabbled in the entertainment business while still playing in the NFL. Towards the end of his career, he started working as a part-time NFL analyst when Jacobson worked at ESPN. He also did a commercial for Dick's Sporting Goods in 2009, and the director gave him words of encouragement regarding his acting skills. 

The three-time Pro Bowler said he started thinking about his post-playing career long before he was done playing football. He saw early on just how quickly your career can end. 

"You better start thinking about that long before you finish your career," Asomugha said. "I mean, I started noticing really my first year in the NFL that you can go down with an injury, your career can be over. You can get cut within moments. And then what are you gonna do?" 

The Cal product soon turned his focus to acting and producing. He said he "was a rookie again" and took acting classes.

Asomugha now has a long list of credits when looking at his IMDB page. The former football star was the executive producer for Netflix's "Beasts of No Nation" in 2015, and he starred in Amazon's "Crown Heights" in 2017.

But it was the Broadway stage where Asomugha found his true calling. He felt the same kind of rush he did on the football field when he made his Broadway debut in the award-winning "A Soldier's Play" earlier in February.

"They announce you, everyone's cheering," Asomugha recalled. "I kind of ran on to the stage and began our work. And I remember at that moment just being like, 'This is where I'm supposed to be.' ... That's football, isn't it? It's live. You don't get a second take, you better get it right.

"I developed that muscle so much, I'm at my best when I'm in the fire."

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Asomugha finished his football career after playing three games for the 49ers in 2013. He then retired as a Raider in December of that same year. And though he has found his new calling, he admits he misses the game that first brought him so much joy.

"That was a great time," Asomugha said. "Football is definitely my first love. Now finding this world in entertainment through acting and producing -- I didn't think I would love something as much as I did, but I'm so grateful now that I do."