NORA PRINCIOTTI / APRIL 16, 2020
If things were normal, Brandon Copeland would be on his way to New England to start his first offseason program as a Patriots linebacker.
But nothing is normal right now, so Copeland is at home in New Jersey with wife Taylor, their 9-month-old son Bryson, his parents, and his mother-in-law, working out in his garage and burning through his to-do list. He’s also found a new way to keep engaged with one of his non-football jobs, a teacher of financial literacy courses.
Copeland, in partnership with the Boston-based nonprofit FitMoney, is leading a set of free online videos designed to teach financial literacy for children currently learning at home. The first episode, on budgeting, went up Thursday and includes setting a budget, buying a car, and planning a party.
“I’m looking at ways to try to help people during this time and … the reason why I started it is because it’s something that affects us all,” Copeland said.
Copeland has always tried to be smart with money and to teach others how to do the same. Last spring, he started co-teaching a course at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, focused on financial management. More recently, he’s held a series of webinars on the same topic for fellow professional athletes through a partnership with the NFLPA. He wanted, however, to do something for a younger audience.
“One of the things growing up that I was always conscious of was money,” Copeland said. “It wasn’t just an abundance in our home growing up. I remember my mom working her tail off to provide a lot for my brother and I.
“I always thought as I learned more and more and got more involved in finance and into investing and all these different things, I thought, ‘Wow, if she had only known some of this stuff maybe it would have taken some of the stress off of her growing up.’ So that’s another reason why for me it’s not just about college students or certain high school students.”
As luck would have it, FitMoney’s executive director, Jessica Pelletier, reached out to Copeland in early March, not long before he signed with the Patriots. It seemed like an easy partnership to make, so plans moved quickly but had to shift when it became clear any resource needed to be designed for an audience consuming it at home — with outreach suddenly going to parents, not teachers and schools.
It’s also designed for an audience that’s potentially thinking more than usual about money and financial planning now, given the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis and future fallout.
“It’s piqued ears and interests because it is really, really affecting us all now,” Copeland said.
On Copeland’s part, he’s taken his time at home to go through bills and make sure he knows where all his money is going, figure out how to invest what he’d normally be spending on training in Florida, to read, and to finally organize his “man cave.” Whenever it’s time, he’s looking forward to getting started in person with the Patriots.
As strategic a planner and as brand-conscious as Copeland is, it’s not surprising the cultural currency of playing for New England was not lost on him when he signed his one-year deal at the end of March.
“Once you put that Patriots tag line on next to your name you just feel a different sense of pride,” Copeland said. “You automatically know that whoever you’re talking to knows that you’re the cream of the crop.”