Jerry Azumah played for the Chicago Bears for 7 seasons as a cornerback on a team known for tough defense. He was selected to the Pro-Bowl in 2003, and won the prestigious Brian Piccolo award, which is given by Chicago Bear teammates to honor a player's courage, loyalty, teamwork and dedication. Azumah remains true to these qualities as a Philanthropic leader and board member of Bears Care, a Chicago Bears philanthropic program that helps raise money and spread awareness about breast and ovarian Cancer. He also started the Azumah Student Assistance Program (ASAP), a charitable organization that provides scholarships for disadvantaged students.
Looking back on your long football career, what are you most proud of?
I'm proud to have played for a team that I grew up watching and rooting for as a kid. Not to mention playing with some great players and gaining incredible friendships. Oh and being called an All-Pro.
Do you have a favorite memory from your seven years with the Bears?
Running out of the tunnel of my first home NFL game as a Chicago Bear was an incredible moment. I will never forget seeing the gigantic smiles on the faces of my family and close friends.
In 1999, your first season with the Bears, you won the Brian Piccolo Award. What did that award mean to you?
I did some research on Mr. Piccolo and what the award meant. The award is voted by the team to who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo. To know that my own teammates voted for me to have this award was gratifying. It let me know what kind of an impact I made amongst my peers.
What is something people would be surprised to know about playing in the NFL?
More time is spent with game planning and film study than working out and practicing. The NFL is made up of physically gifted athletes but I would say the game is more of a mental battle than physical.
What has surprised you about being a retired NFL player? How did you adjust to life without football?
The main surprise about retirement was the amount of free time that I had on my hands. I was always on a schedule with football basically all year round each and every year for a majority of my life. I adjusted to life after football by occupying my free time with things that I was always interested in doing. Traveling, broadcasting, charity work, starting a business to name a few.
What advice would you give an aspiring NFL athlete?
Enjoy the journey. Athletes spend an enormous amount of time sharpening their craft and sometimes they forget to enjoy the ride. Football careers are short in the grand scheme of the rest of one’s life. Enjoy the journey while it lasts because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Can you tell us about your job now at Goldwyn Labs?
In 2015 I put together a Chicago based company called Goldwyn Labs that offers integrated uniform product-service solutions for the hospitality arena. The company allows me to be creative and close to fashion which I enjoy.
Strength and fitness is obviously important to you, how have you maintained focus as a retired football player?
Since retirement I have taken on various strength and fitness challenges such as the Chicago marathon, tough mudders and urbanathlons. These challenges not only keep me fit but they also allow me to be competitive.
How would you describe your personal style? How important is fashion and grooming to you?
My personal style is clean and laid back with dark colors. Since I'm in the fashion/uniform world I do love wearing a suit. Grooming is very important and maintenance is an absolute must for me. I like to look clean and polished at all times. One thing that I will never leave home without is my Jack Black lip balm.