I was 38 years old, played 15 years in the league, and had an expiring contract — it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what was next. Not making the playoffs, the team was getting younger, they drafted a quarterback in the 4th round —all the signs were there. So, I began preparing before I got to the point of that expiration date. As athletes, we all have an expiration date.
Charlie Batch is a former NFL quarterback who played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Batch is The Trust's Senior Captain who assists in impacting the lives of former NFL players as they transition out of the league. He currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA.
“ As athletes, we all have an expiration date. ”
Once I retired, my wife, Tasha was like "Okay, I'll let you mourn the loss of football." She gave me a couple of months to mourn but after three months, she made it clear it was time to get up off the couch and get it going.
I still had my foundation, Best of Batch, and after I retired I was able to be there a lot more than when I was playing.
It was a learning curve in my wife and I's personal relationship. The times that I would've been gone for practice were removed from my life, which caused us to be around each other a lot more. It's harder whenever you work with your wife because it really challenged us from a communication perspective. When you work together all day, you may run out of things to say. It was difficult to ask, "Hey, how was your day today?" and she responds, "What do you mean? You were 10 steps down the hall."
Eventually, we had to learn to tolerate each other to a certain degree because we were around each other more. We had to relearn one another because for so long, there were pockets when I wasn't there. Ultimately, it made us stronger because she was challenging me and making sure I was ready to transition to the next step.
Understanding my passion. I couldn't quit football cold turkey— I had to almost reintroduce myself to the football world outside of not being a player anymore. I had to remove myself from the football player mentality and ask myself, "What's the next step for me?" The biggest challenge was walking into that stadium when I was no longer a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“ The biggest challenge was walking into that stadium when I was no longer a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. ”
I never knew what the stadium looked like two hours prior to the game. I didn't know what traffic looked like, or even what the security measures were for fans. For 11 years, I used to enter through the side entrance underneath the stadium and now, I'm going through the main entrance. It was an eye opener for me. I said thought to myself, "Wow, I am officially done."
“ It was an eye opener for me. I said to myself "Wow, I am officially done." ”
It's huge. We all leave this game differently and we all leave under different circumstances so there's some sort of bitterness as we transition. I always tell guys, "Man, we've all been, through this. We all have been fired, essentially, so let's figure out how we can help each other." When they get into that locker room feel, it makes it a lot easier for them to drop their guards down a little bit and have open conversations about some of the challenges they may be facing.
Now that the guard is down and I'm aware of what someone may be going through, then I can offer some help. "You're thinking about going to school, did you know you have up to $20,000 of scholarship money?" Then they'll respond, "I didn't know that. Oh wow!"
When you're having those types of conversations in that environment, people know it's legitimate. As a former player, it's such a good feeling because they look back and they're like, "Man, I haven't seen that dude in 10 years. I didn't even know he was in the area." These types of conversations happen a lot and when you get them to that environment — they are able to reconnect.
I provide color commentary for the Pittsburgh Steelers Pre-Game TV on KDKA-TV, the CBS affiliate. I also do post-game radio on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Post-Game Show.
I used to commentate at the high school affiliate in Pittsburgh — I did that for five years. Prior to that, I took advantage of the Broadcast Boot Camp that NFL Player Engagement provides. I met a lot of great people and of course, they encouraged me to keep practicing.
Then, the color commentator for the Steelers retired after 25 years — he said he just didn't want to do it anymore. One day, I got a call and they said, "Hey Charlie, we know you've been doing all of these other things, but the position is yours if you want it." I looked at my wife, Tasha, and I'm like, "Do I want to do this?" I was nervous. I didn't know if I was really ready for that position. And she was like, " Go for it! Why not? If you decline it, you may not get it for 25 years." And that was it — in 2015 I was officially named the color commentator for the Steelers pre-season games.
I started Best of Batch Foundation when I was still playing in the NFL. The reason why the foundation was started was because I loss my sister to senseless gang violence in 1996; she was caught in crossfire between two rival gangs. It was hard for me at the time to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to do something if I was ever in position to do so.
“ ...I just knew I wanted to do something... ”
To go from where we were to now, 20 years later, being able to service 3,800 kids annually in seven different counties throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania — it's humbling. I never envisioned the foundation being this big, but here we are.
We use every inch of space in our building and are busting out of the seams. We actually are breaking ground on a 26,000 square foot expansion project that will take our numbers to over 4,000 kids annually.
In the Pocket with Charlie Batch is The Best of Batch Foundation's annual fundraiser. It's a ping pong, pool and poker event. Fans have the opportunity to compete against the Pittsburgh Steelers and local celebrities in the area where bragging rights are at stake. It's a fun-filled competition, but it also raises funds for our literacy programs and helps support our STEAM programs.
This is our 13th year hosting this fundraiser and again, it's humbling because of the amount of people who come out and support. It shows us how much they believe in our mission and what we are trying to accomplish throughout Pittsburgh.
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