The Jacksonville Jaguars’ season is already at the halfway mark, and yet there’s still so much preparation for each game happening behind the scenes—both before the players step on TIAA Bank Field and after each game. Gear must be gathered, luxury vehicles must be gassed up, and each player must eventually get back to his home sweet home. Pro football players aren’t usually local men—most of them relocate to the Jacksonville area to play the game they love. And that’s where Kyle Bosworth and Jason Babin, of RedZone Realty Group, come in.
Former football players themselves, Babin and Bosworth know exactly what goes on behind the scenes in professional football. Babin, who retired after 12 busy years, was in the Pro Bowl twice and on the All-Pro second team. He was an outside linebacker and/or defensive end for several teams in his career: Houston Texans 2004-’06, Seattle Seahawks ’07-’08, Kansas City Chiefs 2008, Philadelphia Eagles 2009, Tennessee Titans 2010, Philadelphia Eagles ’11-’12, Jacksonville Jaguars 2012-’13, New York Jets 2014, Baltimore Ravens 2015 and the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. Bosworth was on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster as linebacker in 2011-’12. He finished up his professional football career with America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, still as linebacker.
Their routes crossed when they both played for the Jags, in 2012. The usual locker room bro-talk led to a realization that they had more in common than just chasing a pigskin or staring in the face of a very large individual, then rendering said individual immobile. Bosworth and Babin shared a serious passion for real estate—developing, building, selling, getting the right family settled in the right house. They knew firsthand the problems of moving from town to town on short notice (sometimes very short notice) and the men felt confident they could make the often-confusing transition go a lot more smoothly for other pro football players when their time to pack it all up arrived.
So after their football careers ended, the former teammates were trying to decide what the next phase of their lives should entail. That’s when they concluded that they should do what the old pros were always advising them. “Do what you love.” They both had some experience with construction, building and planning communities. Bosworth already had his Texas realtor’s license. Whatever aspects of the game they hadn’t yet learned—investing, property sales, renting, renovating—they’d pick up in no time.
From all this brainstorming, RedZone Realty Group was born. Remembering that there had been no reliable sources for them to call on to find out about housing—neighborhoods, schools, safety, aesthetics and price—when they’d started with the NFL, the pair decided to market to and help fellow NFL players and retirees find the perfect places to live.
The overwhelming stress and over-the-top excitement of signing a contract with the NFL is very real, and there are a lot of components that go into it. Most professional football players play only three or four years. During that brief period, they sign contracts that pay them millions of dollars. Some players spend a majority of it quickly and leave pro football with little to no money to call their own.
Sports Illustrated reported that in just two years, many retired players file for bankruptcy or undergo severe financial stress for various reasons, from joblessness to divorce to ill-advised investments. Some famous players who’ve lost millions include Dan Marino and Terrell Owens. Marino is said to have lost at least $13.6 million. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. That’s a lot of scratch. The former Miami Dolphins star quarterback is said to have made a bad investment in 2012. He took a chance on Digital Domain, a company that eventually filed for bankruptcy (taking his substantial investment with it).
Owens reportedly lost even more money than Marino. It has been reported he vaporized between $80 to $100 million. Once known as the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game, scoring 156 touchdowns in his career (ranking fifth highest in NFL history), Owens went on Dr. Phil McGraw’s talk show and told the world he was filing for bankruptcy. During that airing, he attempted to explain why he, a father of four kids with four women, abandoned three of those mothers and stopped paying child support. His $50,000-a-month child-support payments were speculated to be the reason he had to start playing for a part-time indoor football team. Ex-pro football players need to keep a handle on the money, advises Owens. The golden rule: “Don’t live beyond your means.”
So logically, former construction worker and house-flipper (for eight years) Jason Babin and house-flipper, licensed real estate agent Kyle Bosworth (whose uncle is famed Seattle linebacker Brian Bosworth) are putting their passion for real estate to work, for themselves and their fellow pigskin passers, defenders and fumblers alike.
Bosworth and Babin set out to help players specifically connected with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Their clientele has now climbed to 60 to 70 percent of new players who move to the area. With their NFL tie-in, they have access to the industry insiders, and by utilizing their contacts and earning the trust of managers and coaches, they’ve become the first choice for players seeking housing—to rent or buy.
The dedication the partners have to the players involves more than just finding them a house or rental, though. Babin and Bosworth offer financial advice, help with property management, educate and assist players if they themselves are interested in getting involved in that field once they leave the one marked off in yards. The RedZone team goes above and beyond to accommodate the needs of these accomplished athletes, even picking them up at the airport. In order to market to the players, Babin and Bosworth have relationships with the team members and their agents, going to practices and holding seminars to educate the players.
One notable service they perform is negotiating with investors prior to a rental, ensuring players wouldn’t be stuck in a lease if they were injured on the field or cut from the team. Bosworth stated they generally “suggest younger guys [get] a rental and feel out the area” before they purchase a house. The key areas players like to live in are Riverside, Downtown by the stadium, by St. Johns Town Center, Queen’s Harbour and at the Beaches.
When it comes to retired or older players, where they live depends on how they saved their money and how they want to invest it. That’s when RedZone staff coaches them on their investments, and sets them up in flips or rental properties. They hope to talk to players while they’re still on a team roster, so they can advise them on investments before they make that last run.
RedZone Realty currently employs 19 agents, with more expected to be hired in the future. Ultimately, Bosworth and Babin would like to reach out to other NFL teams and license franchises of RedZone Realty. And who knows? Maybe someday, they’ll be advising athletes who play on the hardwood and the diamond, too. The sky’s the limit.