Brent Novoselsky

Trust Spotlights

Brent Novoselsky


The Seven-Year NFL Veteran Shares his Life Post-Football and his Success with the Brain and Body Assessment.

Brent Novoselsky’s love for football had a simple beginning—a Nerf pick-up game in his neighborhood cul-de-sac. Born and raised in Skokie, Illinois, he said the best days were when it snowed enough in the Chicago suburb to allow all the kids to play tackle in the street. “My football career started really early,” Novoselsky said, but it wasn’t until his freshman year of high school that he joined an actual team. 

Novoselsky fell into the role of tight end by happenstance. He remembers his first high school football practice vividly: young players all gathered in the indoor gym—hormonal nerves and all— to pick what position they wanted to try out for. When the coach told the players to line up based on their desired positions, Novoselsky largely based his decision on which line had the fewest number of players—the line for the tight ends. Quickly, however, Novoselsky knew the position was for him, as it fulfilled his desire to both block and catch. 

His high school success both on the field and in the classroom led him to play at the University of Pennsylvania and study at the Wharton School of Business. “Every day at Penn, I would come back from football practice and go right to the library,” he said, “I was just studying as hard as I could to make sure I was prepared.” Initially, it was difficult to juggle both the heavy school load and the move away from his family. “The great thing, though, was that once I laced up my cleats on the football field, I felt like I was home,” Novoselsky recalled. All-in-all, “college really set me up— not only for the pros but for business and for life.”

My college coach gave me a great saying: ‘The greater the challenge, the more glorious the victory,’ which is about facing the challenges that we have in life and in football.

Even though he was given the advice to quit football to pursue a business career, Novoselsky decided to give football one more shot after graduating from Penn—a decision that led to seven impressive years in the NFL. 

He described his NFL career in one simple word: phenomenal. He played his rookie year for his childhood team, the Chicago Bears, and then played six more for his beloved Minnesota Vikings. 

When asked about his favorite NFL memory, Novoselsky said it was easy to pick. It was the last game in 1989 on a Monday night. Novoselsky, playing for the Vikings at the time, remembered that the stakes of the game were high; “If we won, we got into the playoffs, and we were playing the Cincinnati Bengals, who had just been in the Super Bowl. With minutes left in the game, Cincinnati was coming back.” It was fourth down, at the goal line, and quarterback Wade Wilson threw to Novoselsky in the corner of the endzone. He caught it to win the game. 

In that moment, “I literally went back to my early days of Nerf football in the cul-de-sac. Ball over the shoulder. Get your feet in. Drag your foot. Boom. Catch. Touchdown,” he said, “and we wound up winning because of that.” 

Novoselsky remembers thinking to himself before each game: “Do I really belong out here?” Even for a League veteran who garnered 100 special team tackles in over 100 NFL games, the pressure to be his best never went away.  

“You know when you lean back in a chair, and right before you fall back, you get that kind of unsettled feeling,” he said, his NFL career was “like seven years of doing that.” It always felt like he was on the bubble, filled with the media commentators making him second-guess whether he would remain in the League for another season. But, year after year, he proved that he deserved to be there. Novoselsky eventually left the NFL in 1994 after sustaining a back injury. 

There were other players out there that were bigger than me, faster than me, stronger than me, but I wanted to be the best that I could be.

Today, Novoselsky is back in the suburbs of Chicago, where most of his family still lives. “It was a great place to grow up, a great place to raise my kids, and a phenomenal place to do business,” he said. Novoselsky jumped back into the world of finance full-time after leaving the NFL and has worked for Alera Group, a financial organization that helps companies and individuals organize their finances, for the past twenty-seven years. 

“Football has been great training for everything that goes on in the market,” he said, “it’s really the stoic philosophy of whatever happens is going to happen—you cannot change what happens, but you can change the way you react.”  

Likewise, Novoselsky is passionate about helping other Former Players find their next endeavor after football that will “fill them up” and get them excited to go to work every day. Since 1995, he has been active in his local NFLPA chapter and was worked with players transitioning out of the NFL. “I just try to impart onto them the fact that they’ve got this great story, they’ve got this great background, and they’ve got benefits that the NFLPA can offer them because they played,” he said.  

It’s amazing how many people want to work with you when you have the backstory of playing in the NFL.

Novoselsky highlighted that the Retired Professional Football Players of Chicago, in conjunction with the NFLPA, has provided both support and brotherhood between Former Players while also positively impacting the community. His NFLPA chapter has helped provide scholarships every year for young student-athletes and provide grants, time, and equipment to youth football organizations in need. 

In 2013, when The Trust started, Novoselsky was thrilled that there was an organization for Former Players to get assistance. When it comes to using The Trust’s services, Novoselsky has a simple piece of advice for members: use everything you can. “You never know what you may need,” he said, “if you need to finish your degree, if you need to get another degree, if you need help with financial planning, or if you need additional security checks on caregivers for your parents,” The Trust can help. 

For him, one of The Trust’s biggest assets is the Brain and Body Assessment, which he did at the Cleveland Clinic; “To me, it is the greatest benefit.” 

Last spring, Novoselsky went to the Cleveland Clinic for three days and two nights. “From your toes to the top of your head, they do all these medical tests and walk you through it. You get in and get the VIP treatment,” he said, “they check everything out and even do a sleep test at night.” Novoselsky sees the test as a snapshot in time of where his body is today, and he plans to do the test every five years for the rest of his life.

For our guys, it's wonderful to have the resources of the Cleveland Clinic behind you.

In addition to the Cleveland Clinic, the Brain and Body Assessment is offered at the Tulane University School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I've been telling every single one of our guys to take advantage of Brain and Body,” Novoselsky said, for any Former Player feeling any sort of strain on their body, he said it is important to look at what's the cause and get it fixed.

Novoselsky appreciates how The Trust has allowed players to get a more thorough understanding of themselves and their bodies in a way that sets them up for a better future; “The Trust allows our guys to have that little step up in their dignity, and that's a really key aspect for me.”

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