Sports and Fashion Always Play Nice Together: Styling Tips from Former NFL Player


Being fashionable and being a professional athlete go hand in hand.  Even on the playing field, you want to look sexy and cool in your uniform.  Many athletes don’t admit it, but we all know who looks good in their uniform, and looking good usually reflects in your play.  As Deion Sanders once famously said, “If you look good, you feel good.  If you feel good, you play good. And if you play good, you get paid good.”  Now I don’t play professionally anymore, but as the Executive Director of the You Can Play Project, an organization who has partnership with many professional sports leagues, colleges and high schools and offerings training and curriculum on how to create safe spaces in sports for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) athletes, I still strive to be fashionable because it gives me confidence and though I’m 37, I still try to pass for much younger.


When I hear the word ‘fashion’, I always smile, partially due to growing up somewhat underprivileged. My family could never afford what most people would consider to be fashionable clothing.   As a child, I always craved the latest sneaker. I wasn’t really into the clothing aspect of fashion because if you were wearing the latest sneaker, the clothing didn’t really matter and that partially shapes my ideas of what’s fashionably now and how I dress myself today.


If you go into my closet, you will see sneakers galore.  My shoe choice typically dictates what the rest of the outfit will look like.  And my favorite color sneaker is red so I own multiple pairs of red sneakers.  When it comes to clothing I enjoy variety. I’m a ‘pop of color’ type of guy.  I like to rock multiple styles and try new things to see what I can and can’t pull off. I’m my own harshest critic.  Usually if I’m late somewhere, it’s because I hated the first three outfits I put on and finally I just went back to something familiar.  When I’m finally ready to leave the house below is some of what goes through my mind.


Look Back At It

Purchase a full-length mirror.  Trying to get dressed without being able to fully view and access your shoes, pants, shirt and maybe sunglasses is a recipe for huge and unseen missteps.  I want to make sure that when I’m getting dressed I’m confidence about everything, especially when trying something brand new.  I remember the first time I wore yellow pants – I needed to make sure that everything worked together and without my full-length mirror, I would not be as confident to try something so bold.


Yellow pants photo by Seth Kushner

Body/Brand Loyalty

As an athlete, I have a larger butt and thick legs for a 5’11, 185 pound guy. That means finding clothing that fits my lower body is extremely important, especially when it comes to suits. So when I find a few brands – I don’t stray.   Ted Baker makes affordable suits that are fashionable and for men with athletic builds. So whenever I’m looking to purchase a new suit – Ted Baker and I spend some quality time together first.



Statement Piece Spending

Most of us can’t afford to spend large sums of money for an entire outfit, so when I do make an expensive purchase, I buy something that can go with multiple outfits and is timeless.  My Belstaff jacket is a ‘statement piece’ spend because I know it will be in style for years and will work well with anything.  In this photo, I paired it with G-Star Jeans and a Public School Sweatshirt.


Black Jacket photo by Wade Davis


Uncomfortable Doesn’t Mean Discomfort

I often see guys wearing different styles of clothing that I would never think to wear because of my own individual hang-ups. Yet recently I’ve been pushing myself to wear new styles and types of clothing that stretch me out of my comfort zone.   I don’t wear clothing that doesn’t fit comfortably but if I’m uncomfortable with the clothing because it’s something I’ve never worn before – I know I’m on the right track.


Seated photo by Katie Simmons-Barth