Nick Folk was ready to start a commercial real estate career. Then the Patriots called

The Boston Globe Sports 1 month ago

FOXBOROUGH — Nick Folk needs to update his LinkedIn page.

“VP of Operations at AMR Capital, LLC,” it reads, listing his occupation under his name. Recently, according to his activity, he’s liked posts about the growing population in and around Dallas and about the business plan for a real estate project called Westlake Villas.

It’s understandable that the latest Patriots kicker hasn’t had time to update his professional profile. Folk, who kicked in the NFL from 2007-2017 and just got back into the league with the Patriots, was just getting started in his new career in commercial real estate when his old career came calling Oct. 29.

“I think my first official day [at AMR Capital] was Sept. 9 or something like that,” Folk said. “I’d kick in the mornings, lift in the mornings, run, get my kids to school, do all that fun stuff, then go to work.”

AMR Capital is a commercial real estate firm based in Dallas, where Folk lives with his family. The firm invests mostly in multi-family, retail, and office space around Texas, especially in the Dallas area.

Folk met AMR’s founder, Russ Graves, last January through a football connection. The connection was Bryce Petty, the quarterback who was Folk’s teammate on the Jets in 2015 and 2016, who now also works at AMR as the company’s director of capital markets, where he focuses on courting investors.

“The business world, especially related to sports, it gets you in doors,” Petty said on the podcast The Wilderness, which he co-hosts, talking about his transition out of football last year.

Petty knew Folk was interested in the business world and made the connection, and Graves and Folk hit it off. Folk was still working toward an MBA at that point, and told Graves he needed to finish that before he made a career move.

When Folk graduated in August, he was still hopeful he’d get an opportunity to kick, but was ready to take a position as long as it was flexible.

Luckily for him, Graves gave him one.

“Beginning of September, I said, ‘All right, no one has really called, but I still want to kick, I still want to train, and if I get a call do you mind if I leave?’ ” Folk said. “And he said, ‘No, not at all.’ So he hired me.”

In his position, Folk is a liaison between the different parts of the company that value and acquire properties and that raise funds, and helps oversee AMR’s general operations when Graves needs to focus on a specific project. Folk said he likes the entrepreneurial side of the job.

“I was able to sign letters of intent and say, ‘OK, this property we’re willing to pay ‘X’ for it,’ and sign my name on the dotted line, kind of negotiate a little bit there,” Folk said.

In the beginning of October, though, the Patriots called and asked Folk to come try out. Graves figured he was losing an employee right then, but New England wound up signing a different veteran kicker, Mike Nugent.

Nugent kicked in four games, going 5 of 8 on field goals, then was cut. The Patriots called Folk back Oct. 29 and asked if he’d come sign with them after all. Folk called Graves and gave him the news.

“I said, ‘The Patriots want to sign me, bad news is I’m not coming in for a little bit,’ ” Folk said. “He said, ‘No, that’s awesome.’

“Luckily, I’ve got a really cool boss. I talked to him yesterday for a while, he keeps me updated on what’s going on, so after the season when I’m back home I can do the same thing.”

For most NFL players, there’s some anxiety that comes with figuring out what they’ll do — whether to make money or just to fill the day — once their playing careers are done. Folk finished the 2017 season with the Buccaneers on injured reserve, then was a free agent in 2018, and kicked in the AAF in early 2019.

For Folk, who turned 35 last week, it had been time to think about the next phase of his life.

He’d started doing that when he went for his MBA. Folk got his degree from Indiana University in August, having enrolled as part of a partnership between its Kelley School of Business and the NFLPA. As long as a player gets C’s or better (“I can do that,” Folk assures), tuition gets reimbursed through the partnership.

Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots kicker who is out for the season, was in Folk’s first two classes. Patriots center Ted Karras and left guard Joe Thuney were in another.

Folk’s always felt entrepreneurial by nature — get him together with his brothers and it’ll take little time before they’re plotting some business idea — and figured the degree would help him be a more competitive job candidate after football. His NFL career had given him great life experience, taught him how to problem solve, to work on a team, and to handle ups and downs, but his resume wasn’t exactly full of business experience.

“I said, ‘All right, I don’t want to be a 30-something-year-old rookie in the business world,’ ” Folk said. “That’s kind of where my thought was, I didn’t want to do that to myself.”

He didn’t and his post-football plan was already in motion — though now Folk would love it to stay on hold for a few months longer.


Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.


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