Reaching the goal: Former NFL linebacker made master’s a priority

When you say you can’t add another thing to your plate, be inspired by Tim Terry.

An uncompromising professional, a dedicated father with a busy career that requires long hours and extensive travel in his position as assistant director of pro personnel for the Green Bay Packers, Terry graduates Dec. 17 with a master’s degree from UW-Green Bay.

It’s hard to believe that a man who by nature of his former profession was the intimidator — he played linebacker for the NFL’s Bengals, Chiefs and Seahawks before retiring in 2003 — could be intimidated.

Terry recalls, however, that the thought of going back to school, a goal since he graduated with a political science degree from Temple in 1997, was both “intimidating and overwhelming.” But it was a personal goal just the same, and he wasn’t about to settle for falling short.

“When I played professional football, I would speak repeatedly of going back and getting my master’s,” Terry says. “I thought it would help round me out professionally, and make me more marketable. But surprisingly, what I found was that this process and program gave me so much more than that.

“At the start I would question whether or not I was cut out for this, but through time, my confidence and awareness and understanding of what I have inside and could bring to the discussion (with faculty and peers) was revealed. I credit UW-Green Bay for providing the environment for me to be able to mature professionally and really gain the perspective of who and what I am and can bring to any table or arena. I would not have accomplished this had I not gone through the program.”

Through UW-Green Bay’s Master’s of Management program, Terry was able to focus his research and final project on an area he is passionate about. His final project is titled, “Endangered Species: a Study of the Black Male in Wisconsin.”

“This project for me was really a reflection of who I am and where I came from,” the Hempstead, N.Y., native says. “I knew and grew up with so many men who had allowed themselves to be victims of their environment, who had allowed life circumstances to dictate their present reality. I have seen the direct results that come from a lack of hope and vision. No one has any type of success in life solely by their own means. There is someone or something that each of us can reflect upon and say that it helped to mold us in some capacity.”

One of Terry’s faculty advisers, Don McCartney, says that with every master’s thesis should be practical application.

“Tim wants to take what he’s learned both through his classes and research, and what he learned about himself in the process, and apply it to those he works with every day,” McCartney says. “He’s a great example and representative of the master’s program. To think about the hours he puts in on his job and with his kids, I think it’s phenomenal that he was able to do this successfully.”

Time management was a priority. Terry’s job — scouting and evaluating college and professional football players — requires extensive travel. Terry joined the Packers organization in 2004 and works under the direction of Executive VP, GM and Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson. He scouts potential prospects from the NFL, CFL and indoor leagues, and also assists with in-season advance scouting of upcoming Packers opponents.

In addition, Terry has joint custody of three children under the age of 10, and he refused to compromise time with them. Instead, he focused on one class at a time, and was grateful for a faculty that understood the demands of work and family.

“My professors in all of my classes were understanding of my personal life and worked with me regarding my travel schedule,” he says. “That being said, there were many late nights in which I had to prioritize the order in which tasks were accomplished and approached… I would have to say that my kids, and my want for them to see what accomplishment was, and what sacrifice was, meant the most to me and helped push me through the more difficult times.”

Lessons learned for both his children, and for Terry himself, who knows what hard work can do — he made the NFL as an undrafted free agent — and at 37 has a Super Bowl championship behind him and a master’s degree and promising future in front of him.

“If I can reach back and offer a hand in the lives of men and youth that will both inform and aid in their life’s walk in a positive manner it will make our communities and ultimately our country a better place,” he says. “It is time to stop making excuses for why things may be how they are, and instead start finding answers in which to impact our communities and brothers and sisters in these communities. A pastor once told me ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.’”