David Yankey

Trust Spotlights

David Yankey


David Yankey went from a force on the field—as an offensive guard for the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings—to an experienced commercial real estate professional in Atlanta. He now hopes to inspire other Former Players to kickstart their next careers by pinpointing what they are passionate about and what they are good at.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Yankey moved to Atlanta, Georgia when he was eight years old. When he first moved to the US, he didn’t know anything about American football but learned all the rules and the basics from playing Madden. “There’s a plug for playing video games at a young age,” he laughed, “I ended up really enjoying the sport and then started actually playing in real life.” By seventh grade, he was participating in his first season of America’s favorite sport, which he found to be “a very natural fit.”

His success in high school, both on the field and in the classroom, led him to play at Stanford while studying Science, Technology, and Society, an interdisciplinary major unique to the university. “The energy that exists on campus, both academically and athletically, was a huge draw, and I felt incredibly comfortable,” he recalled. He described his time at Stanford as an “incredible four years,” in which he was able to play alongside the likes of Andrew Luck and David DeCastro.

While Yankey was gearing up for the 2014 NFL Draft, he was also accomplishing another major milestone: officially becoming a US citizen. During that period of time, marked both by excitement and stress, he was thankful for the opportunity to be drafted in the fifth round by the Vikings and to start his professional football career. For the next four years, Yankey loved every moment of playing as an offensive guard in the League. “It was truly a once in a lifetime experience…it was really fun to continue to be in a locker room, even after college,” he said, “which is something that is very rare and not afforded to a whole bunch of us.”

During his final year in the League, he was placed on injured reserve, which actually afforded him the ability to slow down and contemplate what his next step would look like. “It gave me the opportunity to start thinking about what life after football would really look like,” he said, “I think it's easy to talk about, but until it's up-close and personal, it's harder to actually deal with.”

Today, Yankey is based full-time in Atlanta and contributes his successful transition out of the League to going back to a familiar place and plugging into new networks and opportunities. “I ended up getting an opportunity to work for a great commercial real estate firm here in Atlanta and really start a career,” he said.

A lot of guys who have since transitioned out of football are doing different things with their lives now and it's exciting to see them start new careers and new trajectories and living a life after football.

He spends a lot of his time focused on holistically living life by prioritizing not only his career but also his family and his community. Both Yankey and his wife are involved with their church, and he also dedicates a lot of time to working alongside the nonprofit Wholesome Wave Georgia, which helps connect people in need with fresh food from local farmers.

Yankey has also made connecting with The Trust community a priority. He was a key contributor to The Trust’s More Than Football series on real estate, where he shared his insight as a Former Player who has successfully made his mark on the real estate industry and had the desire to help those wanting to break into it. “It was a lot of fun getting to share,” he said, and he appreciated hearing the perspectives of other Former Players on the panel alongside him.

“The Trust is awesome, and I love all the interactions I’ve had,” he said, “the staff has been incredibly helpful, very knowledgeable, and has pointed me in the right direction on a number of things.” Yankey’s advice to Trust Members is to utilize all the benefits they’ve earned: “I think if you're not taking advantage of them, you're only robbing yourself, unfortunately.”

One of his favorite benefits was the Brain and Body Assessment at UNC. “It was basically a supercharged physical where you're going from x-ray to MRI to EKG to an echocardiogram, and you're meeting with all these doctors, you're telling them everything that you know,” he said,

“It was really cool to get a full picture of my total health across the board.” From never having to wait for more than five minutes to constantly being taken care of by the wonderful staff at UNC, he found the process enjoyable and stress-free.

For a lot of football players or any professional athletes, most of what you do from a medical standpoint is more for the team; whereas this is something that is just for you.

Something Yankey wants other Former Players to know is that comradery and teamwork don’t end on the field. “The advice that I would give to guys who are coming into the corporate world is to lean on other people as much as you can. Reach out to people. Talk to people. More often than not, you'd be surprised that people are willing to help.” He found meeting new people and making connections in the real estate industry essential to his transition into his next career. “There are going to be really challenging seasons from a football perspective and there are going to be really challenging seasons in your life, but I think as long as you just continue to work towards finding something that you are passionate about, it'll all come together,” he said.

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