Going Long: NFL Veteran Kyle Rudolph on Building a Legacy of Giving

Audio Description

Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph shares valuable insights on achieving success in sports, business, and charitable giving.


This transcript has been generated by an A.I. tool. Please excuse any typos.

Stacie Jacobsen: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Pulse by Bernstein, where we bring you insights on the economy, global markets, and all the complexities of wealth management.

On today's episode, I'm joined by my colleague, Adam Sansiveri. He's my co lead in sports entertainment here at Bernstein, and we will be talking to NFL veteran Kyle Rudolph.

But first, let's take a pulse of the market.

Now that inflation has slowed and the Fed is very likely near the end of its rate hikes, investors have started to turn their attention towards corporate profits.

Generally, the picture for corporate earnings is improving.

So far of the companies that have reported second quarter earnings results, about 80% of them have beaten estimates.

So to put that in perspective, that is a higher rate of outperformance than what we've seen in the last five to 10 years.

That doesn't mean that companies are all performing at their best. In fact, corporate earnings have actually declined by 5% over the past year.

But this decrease was less [00:01:00] than expected, which translates into good news.

But despite the relatively upbeat earnings results, the S&P 500 has basically been flat since the end of the second quarter.

And then the lackluster market for the first half of August does suggest that the market had already priced in higher expectations for corporate profits.

Now after several months of strong positive returns this year, we really wouldn't be surprised to see more volatility in the second half of 2023.

Thanks again for joining us. I'm here today with my co lead of sports and entertainment, Adam Sansiveri.

Thanks Stacie. And our guest is Kyle Rudolph.

Kyle recently announced his retirement after an impressive 12 year career in the NFL.

So we'll want to talk to him about what that transition looks like and what he has in store next.

And we also want to bring you his perspective on NIL and how that's changed the business of sports.

Kyle, thanks so much for being with us today.

Kyle Rudolph: Thanks for having me, Stacie. I'm thrilled to be on and looking forward to some good conversation.

Stacie Jacobsen: All [00:02:00] right, Kyle.

Well, you have just announced your retirement after 12 years in the league, the majority of which the first 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings, and then moved on to the Giants and ended up with the Bucs.

So let's get started with that. Can you tell us a little bit about your career?

Kyle Rudolph: Yeah, everybody always tells you how fast it goes.

You know, I look back and to think that I'm on the other side of a 12 year NFL career.

I really never even planned this far ahead. Um, it was always my whole dream in life was to play professional sports.

That's all I ever wanted to do, whether it was football, basketball, baseball.

It didn't matter. And then I was fortunate enough that as I got older, I was pretty good at them, so I could play more.

And I feel like as a kid, when you have success, it makes you work harder.

Um, you know, it's hard to push yourself and work hard when you're not any good and you're not having success at something, so.

I found success early in sports. I was very [00:03:00] fortunate to go to the university of Notre Dame, uh, where I played three years and then was a second round pick to the Vikings where, you know, ultimately I played a majority of my career.

Adam Sansiveri: Well, and I bet what most people, most players would trade for is the length of your career.

I mean, that's really incredible.

Probably what. four times the average length of an NFL athlete's career is what you got to do.

So I'm curious what motivated you, what motivates you personally, fundamentally down to the core to get up every day and keep working as long as you did throughout your entire career?

Kyle Rudolph: Well, for me in football, it was the opportunity to win a championship.

I had done everything that you can possibly do as an individual in the sport of professional football.

With the exception of playing in a Super Bowl. So, you know, for me, that was my motivation every single day to, you know, get up early, stay late, put in the extra time and effort that it takes to you know, play almost [00:04:00] 100 games in a row, and it was all about one ultimate goal, and that was to win a championship.

Stacie Jacobsen: Kyle, you're now going through maybe the largest transition of your career, and you've now announced that you will be broadcasting for NBC next year.

Kyle Rudolph: Well, it's funny because the preparation really doesn't change much. You know, broadcasting gives me the opportunity to scratch that itch that is football for me.

So, uh, I was exploring different opportunities in different ways to remain in the game in some way, shape or form. And I wanted the opportunity to try this.

Adam Sansiveri: What else are you focusing on in this next phase of your life?

Kyle Rudolph: Well, you know, for me, the opportunity to be around my family more, whether that's taking my kids to school, picking them up from school, taking them to their practice, being at their games or recitals or shows, whatever they have going on.

Certainly as our life changed, things become of higher priority [00:05:00] and certainly spending more time with my family is one.

The other thing it allows me to spend a lot more time in some of the businesses that I've invested in or helped found.

So I've kind of always played a more passive role on the sidelines.

And now this, you know, for the sports pun.

Allows me to get in the game and I can be more actively involved in these companies on a daily basis.

Adam Sansiveri: Well, let's talk more about that because you've always been a good investor.

And a part of that is surrounding yourself with an amazing team and making sure you're educating yourself throughout your career, starting at a very young age, but all those other things you're doing today, I think our listeners would be very interested to hear a little bit more color on.

Kyle Rudolph: Yeah. So for me, you know, I've, I've always treated business the same way I've treated sport and in sports, I've always tried to surround myself and absorb knowledge from people who've had way more success than I have.

There's [00:06:00] people that you can learn from that you can absorb knowledge from, and that might make you just a little bit better of a player.

And in business, it's the same way.

And when you're able to be around some very Incredibly successful business minds. I just try to learn as much as I possibly can from them.

Try to surround myself with them, try to get them on my team to help. If I have one of the best quarterbacks ever, which I was very fortunate last year to have.

I got to play with Tom Brady, the best that's ever played.

That makes me look better in business.

It's the same way. If, if I have a great team around me, I'm going to look like a smarter businessman and our company is going to perform better than if I just try to do it myself.

Stacie Jacobsen: Kyle, I've known you long enough to know that you are significantly charitably inclined and you spend a lot of your time off the field raising money for Masonic Children's Hospital.

You were also recognized twice by the NFL, uh, nominated for the Walter Payton man of the year award.

You've [00:07:00] now actually been able to tie together your philanthropic work with business, right? And that's all true.

Can you tell us a little bit more about how that started and in the trajectory it's on now?

Kyle Rudolph: Yeah, so at Altru, what we do is we partner with athletes as, you know, our niches in sports, but we've also worked with actors and entertainers.

The common theme is, you know, we like working with people who have the same passion that we have for either their own personal foundation.

Or an organization that's near and dear to their heart.

And we like to say, you know, we kind of democratize the experience.

What we like to do is leverage our partners, social media platform to reach their direct fans who would love the opportunity to win this experience.

And have them basically donate a much smaller amount for a chance to win that prize with the proceeds going to our [00:08:00] partner's charity of choice.

Adam Sansiveri: And where did, um, this idea come from? Where do you see it going years from now?

Kyle Rudolph: You see it all the time where fans love rallying behind players and their causes. So, Jason, who's a partner of ours in this, Jason also has the Zucker family broadcast suite and studio. Well, in order for them to fund the, the construction and the programming for that family studio and broadcast suite, they ran a campaign called the give 16 campaign and Jason's number with the wild was 16.

And they were to raise, I believe they raised 1.216. So, you know, you had kids that were donating a dollar 60 cents or, you know, a fan would donate 16 or 160.

And obviously there were some bigger donations of. You know, 16, 000 and so on. They were basically [00:09:00] able to crowdfund donations in increments of 16 to raise 1.2 million to build out this space.

And, you know, for us, when the pandemic hit and we couldn't have these live in person events, the idea of, hey, let's use that same model, but do it on the internet, like leverage your social media reach.

To get the opportunity to your fans to win, you know, tickets to a game, sideline passes, the opportunity to meet you afterwards, get a signed Jersey.

So creating these kind of unique, interactive once in a lifetime experiences that you just can't go online and buy.

So here we are now.

A little over two years from our first rally, and we were closing in on 3 million to charity in just over two years, so it's been a ton of fun for us.

It allows me to have, you know, you draw the Venn diagram of philanthropy, sports and business and all true lives right in the middle of all three of them, [00:10:00] and I think that's that's a big reason why it takes up so much of my time, because I'm just it's what I'm passionate about, All wrapped up into one.

Adam Sansiveri: You can tell you're passionate about it.

When you, the way you speak about it, are you pulling friends and family, your kids into these efforts, the philanthropic stuff you're doing? I'm just curious.

Kyle Rudolph: Absolutely. You're so fortunate and blessed to have everything that you have. Every kid is not the same. And here are kids that need our help, need our time.

Sometimes they just need a friend, somebody to hang out with.

That's why we're here. So, you know, we try to have our kids, have our family, have our friends. Involved in this as much as possible.

And then on the ultra side, actually involving friends, you know, for me, it's in the football world for Jason, it's in the hockey world.

We want to be an asset to these guys because we know how difficult it is to raise money for charity.

It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort, and it takes a lot of treasure. You gotta [00:11:00] spend money to make money in the charity world.

You know, you have to spend money to have these big events and the fancy stages and the good dinners.

Um, you also raise a lot of money, but you got to spend money to raise it.

So if we can be the asset in the vehicle that allows you to just leverage a little bit at a time and a little bit of your platform will cut you the check and that's all your foundation has to do.

Stacie Jacobsen: You know, I wanted to ask you to change up a little bit here about name, image, and likeness and NIL.

Adam and I have really had to adjust our business platform as there's a lot more money in college athletes and even some high school athletes these days. I'd love to hear you reflect on how that's changed the business of sports.

Kyle Rudolph: I mean, it's just accelerated the business of sport.

You know, obviously you're at Notre Dame because you ultimately want to get to the NFL and they want to prepare you for when that opportunity comes.

But I didn't have any money in college.

None of my friends had any money when we were in [00:12:00] college. Um, I'm happy for the college athlete.

I'm happy that they're being compensated because for so long universities were making so much money on these players. If I wanted to go eat off campus somewhere and have somewhat of a nice meal, I couldn't afford to do it because.

A, I wasn't getting any money sent to me from mom and dad, and B, I couldn't go get a job to make some money to have things on the side, like the occasional meal off campus, because football took up all my time after school.

And so for, for these young kids to be compensated for the money that they're making, ultimately the institutions, I think that's great.

I think the issue is, we kind of opened this huge can of worms when the transfer portal came about, all of the rules changed, and you add NIL.

Where these teams are, it's basically [00:13:00] free agency every year with no salary cap and no ramifications for just saying, Oh, well, you know, I went, I went to Notre Dame.

I didn't like how my freshman year went.

Where else can I go and go play and get paid more or have the opportunity to play more?

So I don't love the fact that it's kind of. You know, you're basically recruiting your own roster every year in addition to high school kids to get them to your school.

And I think, you know, it's, it's like anything when the pendulum was so far over here, you know, it's ultimately going to swing way too far in the other direction.

And to me personally, that's where I feel like NIL and the transfer portal have kind of come to college sports.

And. It'll be interesting how they start to regulate things because it was introduced with really not many regulations. As I said, it's kind of the wild, wild west. So it'll be very interesting as [00:14:00] the NIL landscape starts to take shape.

You know, one thing I think about personally is think back 50 something years ago. I think it was in the 1970s when we had Title IX introduced to college sports.

You know, you couldn't just have 85 scholarship football players and then, you know, men's basketball, men's this, men's this, you had to spread those scholarships out evenly amongst men and women's sports.

And right now we see it.

There are a few female college athletes who are doing very well in NIL, but the money is predominantly going to men's sports.

So, at what point does the NCAA come in and say, oh, hold on, like these collectives, that's great.

If you're paying every football player 30, 000, we need to pay every female athlete 30, 000 as well.

Adam Sansiveri: It'll be very interesting how NIL shakes out over the next few years.

It's a really, really good perspective, and there's no doubt that it is changing the financial conversations so much earlier, [00:15:00] earlier than it always has been, which was already early that an early 20 year old comes into the type of wealth that they do, and you reference, you know, not coming from money, obviously having an amazing career and making it to all the way to where you are today.

I'm always curious to know if there are financial lessons that you learned along the way.

Kyle Rudolph: Okay. Absolutely.

I grew up with two parents that worked very, very hard and they worked more than nine to five to make sure that my brother, my sister and I had everything that we needed.

Um, you know, we didn't get everything that we wanted, but I never had to go without something that I needed, whether that be for school, for sports, um, you know, or just the occasional like cool new pair of shoes.

So that way I fit in at school.

You know, my parents were like, We're going to make sure you get it. And I took a personal finance class, I think my junior year of high school. And so I'm 17, maybe 18 years old.

It was the first time I realized that credit [00:16:00] cards aren't a bad thing. Up until that point, I thought credit cards were bad because.

We put stuff on credit cards that we couldn't afford to pay for.

If we couldn't afford it, it went on my mom or dad's credit card.

If we could afford to pay for it, they paid for it with the debit card or wrote a check or paid cash for it.

So here I am my whole life thinking credit cards are a bad thing, you know, take a personal finance class, start to understand the notion of credit and what it means to build credit.

I would have had no idea.

Stacie Jacobsen: You now have wealth significantly above and beyond what you grew up with. How did you manage that financial transition?

Kyle Rudolph: I remember when I got my first like 10, 000 check after college for signing trading cards.

That was like. I'm so rich. Like I've got 10, 000. So obviously when I signed my first NFL contract, it was like, Holy cow.

Like this is, you know, this is more money than I'd ever seen.

And I knew what my [00:17:00] parents were making when I grew up and you know, I'm getting checks for more money than they're making for years. I had to create habits.

I never had a budget because you can't budget 0. And for us, like the answer was just always no.

When we were kids, it's, it wasn't that, Oh, it's.

That is not in the budget. It was never in the budget because we didn't have the money for it.

So, when I came into money as a young professional, it was very important for me to figure out, you know, Dane, who's a good buddy of all of ours, always used the phrase, you know, live like a prince forever or live like a king for a little period of time.

And, you know, that was kind of the habit that I tried to establish throughout my career.

Yeah, what I have loved to known as a 21 year old rookie that I was going to play 12 years in the NFL.

That was my goal. I hoped to have played 10 years, but you never know. I signed a four year, four something million [00:18:00] dollar contract as a rookie.

I think of that, the first three years were guaranteed.

So I was guaranteed a little over 3 million. You pay taxes, federal taxes, Minnesota state income tax, agent fees.

All you know, they just start, it starts ticking away, ticking away. So really, you take that 3 million. I was going to see probably a little over a million of that at the end of the day in cash.

And obviously we all know that can't last you for the rest of your life.

It certainly gives you a great head start, but that's all I was guaranteed at that time. And in the game of football, that's so violent.

It could be over at any time. Now, here we are on the back half of a 12 year career where I was very fortunate and lucky to sign, you know, an extension in Minnesota, another extension in Minnesota, a deal in New York, a deal in Tampa, plenty of contracts that now set me up for the rest of my life.

But it was because of those habits.

That I established [00:19:00] early as a young professional that set me up financially to now be able to do whatever I want.

I don't have to go find a 9 to 5 job because we created this lifestyle. We have to figure out how to financially maintain that when I'm not playing in the NFL and earning the money that I did while I was playing.

Adam Sansiveri: Kyle, you could stop right now with all the philanthropic work you've done and have a pretty good legacy, but we know you, that's not going to be the case.

So I'm curious, what kind of legacy do you want to have moving forward from this point?

Kyle Rudolph: One of the things that excites me most about Altru is we did a lot of really cool things in the Twin Cities.

And, you know, I feel like my wife, Jordan, and I always, you know, whether we're laying in bed at night, having a conversation when all four kids are finally down and asleep, or we're driving home from a visit at the hospital, or we're leaving somebody else's charity event or [00:20:00] gala.

I feel like every time we have these conversations, it's how can we do more?

Um, how can we help more people?

How can we reach more people? And I think, you know, now looking back at the first two years of all true, it's allowed us to raise almost 3 million for over a hundred different organizations.

And I'm not saying we raised it. It's, it's all of our fans across sports that, that help us raise it.

And so as I look at what excites me about the future is You know, this opportunity to use Alltroo as a vehicle to now really expand our reach and expand our impact far greater than just the community that we serve in the Twin Cities.

Adam Sansiveri: And where can our listeners go to learn a little bit more about Alltroo and even the Children's Hospital, uh, Kyle Rudolf Enzo?

Kyle Rudolph: Yeah. So if you just go to Alltroo. com, Alltroo.com, you can hop on the website. There's... All [00:21:00] the live experiences that are on there right now, but there's also the about us section on the website where you can read up on myself, Jason, John Wohlberg, Joel Kunza, two of our other partners who again were instrumental partners of ours at the hospital.

They have their own nonprofit as well.

Athletes for Minnesota kids where they're just about helping people in helping bring awareness and funds to these different organizations.

And for us at Alltroo, that's that's what we want to do.

Stacie Jacobsen: And Kyle kudos to you after working with you.

Um, you are an incredible sponge.

You ask a lot of really good questions and you are very responsible with your financial future.

So I think a lot of that credit goes to you and all of the work that you've put in.

Kyle Rudolph: Uh, it's no different than football and business.

I just surround myself with a great team.

There's a reason why, you know, we work with Bernstein and love everyone at Bernstein so much.

Stacie Jacobsen: All right, Kyle. Well, thanks so much for being here today.

We really appreciate, uh, you know, just hearing from you and all of your stories and, uh, [00:22:00] Adam, thanks for leading the conversation.

I always love having you on here.

Adam Sansiveri: Thanks Stacie. Great to be with you. And thank you, Kyle. Yeah.

Kyle Rudolph: Thank you, Adam. Stacie, always a pleasure.

Stacie Jacobsen: Thank you so much.

We'll be back with another episode of The Pulse on Tuesday, September 12th, so don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts so you never miss a beat.

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